Editorial: When does an anniversary become a regular day?

By The Editorial Board

This Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but honestly, it seemed like any other day.

We’re not sure if it was because it was the Huskies’ first home football game, or the fact that the day itself had perfect weather, but it just didn’t seem like the anniversary of one of the deadliest days in American history.

This Saturday provokes a thoughtful question: At what point does a day marking a tragic anniversary become just a regular day? This is not meant to belittle or discount those who are still affected by tragedy; those of us who did lose somebody on Sept. 11, 2001, or Feb. 14, 2008, or April 16, 2007 will no doubt feel the pain for years and years to come.

But as for the rest of us, when do certain tragedies become repressed by time?

We’ve had a microcosm of this kind here at NIU. There was a marked difference between the first anniversary and the second anniversary of the Feb. 14 shootings, and you can bet the same will happen with the third anniversary.

It’s not that NIU does not care. It’s just that universities are in a unique position. The campus population changes every year; the students who were freshmen on Feb. 14 are seniors now, and in a couple of years, the transition will be complete.

Maybe it goes the same for the national tragedies as well. The overall impact of Pearl Harbor, a day President Roosevelt swore would live forever in infamy, has lessened as the decades have gone by, and as the people from that era have come and gone.

This can be a blessing and a curse. Future generations will not have to endure the same feeling of helplessness and agony that some of us feel in our stomachs when we watch the old news clips of the World Trade Center’s destruction. They will not have to experience that nightmare.

But we cannot forget our history entirely. History is not made in a vacuum; 9/11 was not some random, one-off event, but part of a larger chain of events hat go back as far as recorded history. As the adage goes, people who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let’s hope we’ve learned something in the nine years since 9/11.