Tahlequah Daily Press


September 6, 2013

Commemoration: We can’t afford to forget 9/11

TAHLEQUAH — In the 1981 cult classic “Excaliber,” a memorable scene has the Knights of the Round Table gathered after a decisive victory in battle. Merlin urges them to remember their conquest and to savor it, “For it is the doom of men that they forget.”

This applies even more aptly in the wake of shared tragedy – and that’s why it’s so important that Americans continue to remember 9/11. What other day can be called to mind by three numerals divided by a backslash?

9/11 hardly needs a description, but for those too young to have its scenes implanted on their minds, it was the day terrorists hijacked two airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City. Even today, the exact number of those who perished is argued, but it’s safe to say it approached 3,000.

More than 400 of the victims were firefighters, police officers and emergency rescue workers who willingly sacrificed themselves to save the lives of others. These men and women, and their peers who were lucky enough to get out alive, are heroes in the purest sense.

Tahlequah is fortunate enough to be home to one of those valiant FDNY EMTs who was at Ground Zero. The Press has interviewed him a few times and reported on his incredible story, and so have other media outlets. His name is Ralph Winburn, and he will be speaking when the Cherokee County Veterans Council holds its annual commemorative ceremony in the Armory Municipal Center’s Veterans Auditorium, 101 N. Water Ave.

Ralph is expected to take the podium at 11 a.m., and if you haven’t heard him speak, we encourage you to do so. Ralph is not an “idol” – he’s no professional football player, movie star or rock musician. Rather, he is a humble man, the epitome of courage – the kind of person we should teach our children to emulate.

We’ve been asked before why the Veterans Council would pay solemn tribute each year to those who died in the line of duty on 9/11. The answer is a simple one: While many of the heroes of that fateful day were not “military” veterans, they put their lives on the line each and every day for people they’ve never met, in service to community and country. Few understand that commitment as well as U.S. veterans.

We’ll get another chance to honor our veterans come November, but in the meantime, let’s help them salute the memory of another group of luminaries who share so much in common with them. While we do that, let’s ponder the lessons of 9/11.

Americans should never take our lifestyles and our values for granted. Okies perhaps know this better than anyone, having come through the nightmare of the Murrah Federal Building bombing in OKC on April 19, 1995. We should grab any opportunity to cherish what we have, and reaffirm our obligation to our fellow citizens. We cannot afford to forget.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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