Craig residents remember, take stock, 7 years after Sept. 11 attacks
September 10, 2008
Valerie Rohrich still remembers, seven years later.
She recently attached between 35 and 40 yellow ribbons to light poles lining the 400 and 500 blocks of Yampa Avenue.
The ribbons are silent reminders of Sept. 11, 2001, the day four hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people in total.
“I just think that sometimes, we forget,” Rohrich said.
Rohrich is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. She believes the terrorist attacks continue to shed light on America’s course and character seven years later.
“I think it’s important for the country to remember what we’ve gone through and where we’ve come from,” she said, “and the strength that we have from it.”
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Rohrich, who served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years, started her annual tradition in Worland, Wyo., where she previously lived. This year marks the second time she’s carried it on in Craig.
Rohrich isn’t the only one who remembers.
Last year, she and other Craig Rotary Club members set out American flags with yellow ribbons tied to their tops to remember the attacks and honor those who died in them.
“I feel some day, (Sept. 11) will be a national holiday,” said Mike Toczek, Craig Rotary Club president.
“It should be,” said Bob Johnson, another Craig Rotary Club member.
Michael Lausin said he thinks the attacks were a watershed event, similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Lausin, a veteran and commander of the local Sons of the American Legion, also believes legislative and military actions stemming from the attacks have been harmful to the country he helped defend during six years of service in the U.S. Navy.
He views the USA PATRIOT Act as a “very bad piece of legislation,” he said, and thinks that other laws passed since Sept. 11, 2001, “serve the government (more) than they do the average citizen.”
Still, in Lausin’s view, not all the aftereffects have been negative.
“People are a little bit more patriotic,” he said, adding that he’s seen American flags flown more in the seven years since the attacks than in the period before.
Bud Nelson, VFW district commander, also sees the event as a turning point in American history.
From his perspective, the attacks were like the assault on Pearl Harbor – but worse.
“It was an attack on civilians : world trade, economics, the military and the executive branch, all at once,” he said.
As a whole, he believes Americans have fallen back into complacency since the attacks.
“Maybe it was a wake up call,” he said. “I don’t know if it was a big enough one.”
One group of American citizens, however, may barely remember the 9/11 attacks, let alone take them to heart as a warning: students.
Unlike local adults who remember the event, Moffat County High School students may have less vivid memories to relate to when judging its impact.
“We have to teach it just like we do every other historical event,” said Eric Hansen, MCHS world history and economics teacher.
At most, current high school seniors would have been 11 years old when the attacks took place.
“It’s weird to me,” Hansen said, “because when I walked into the classroom to start teaching for the first time, I thought that (students) would all understand it, and they would all know about it.”
It wasn’t until after Hansen had crunched the numbers that he realized his students probably weren’t old enough when the attacks happened to grasp their magnitude.
Hansen sees one of his main tasks as clarifying students’ misconceptions about the war’s origins.
“I think there’s a big misconception (among) : a lot of students this age that think that was the whole Muslim religion attacking the United States,” he said, adding that he tries to teach that the attacks were the work of “one radical sect of Islam.”
“I don’t think they are old enough to really understand everything about it,” he said.
Still, Rohrich’s yellow ribbons may serve as a reminder to those who remember the attacks to teach their meaning to those who cannot.
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org