Four years later, memories, priorities of 9/11 vary in wake of natural disasters

It was, conventional wisdom says, the day that changed America forever.

Sept. 11, 2001.

It joined other memorable days seared into the national consciousness — Dec. 7, 1941, and Nov. 22, 1963, to name two.

But as vivid and shocking as the terrorist attacks that downed four jetliners and killed almost 3,000 people in New York’s World Trade Center were, time has a way of blunting a tragedy’s sharp edges.

This process has been quickened by subsequent large-scale devastations like the kind caused by Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami in December.

Alan Barnard of Port Angeles believes this to be true.

That’s why even now — four years after the attack — he’s doing his best to keep the memory of Sept. 11 as vivid as the day it happened.

“We don’t want to forget,” said Barnard, who spearheaded construction of a monument honoring emergency-response personnel at Francis Park in Port Angeles.

“It would be a tragedy to forget what happened.”

Reacquainting with a crisis

“With something like this, which carries such a huge lesson, we have to artificially reacquaint ourselves with the event and our feelings to it,” Barnard says, “to decrease the chances of something like that happening again.”

Barnard organized a ceremony at noon today at the monument to help rekindle the memory of Sept. 11, while honoring local police, firefighters and emergency response employees.

At 9 a.m. today at the Port Townsend Bell Tower, Port Townsend Fire Chief Mike Mingee will take part in a similar ceremony.

“In the fire service we have a motto: never forgotten,” said Mingee.

“It’s important that as a country we never forget how police and firefighters [in New York City] made those sacrifices.”

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