Today marks the ninth anniversary of one of the darkest days in our nation's history. On this date in 2001, terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and caused the crash of another jet, United Airlines Flight 93, into a field in Shanksville, Pa.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed or have died of their injuries since that date. The anniversary of this tragic event is especially poignant for those of us in Columbiana County because we lost one of our own that day. Catherine Salter, a native of Wellsville, died at the World Trade Center. Cathy was an honor student at Wellsville High School and was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. She was 37 years old at the time of the attack and was working on the 100th floor of the Trade Center. Her bright future was snuffed out by this senseless and cowardly act.
In the first few years after the attack, commemorative events were abundant, but now nine years later, the events have taken a political and contentious tone, because of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, and a Florida pastor's plan to burn the Quran. These issues have also stirred fervent debate over religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Several rallies protesting the proposed mosque are also scheduled at various places throughout the country.
One woman, who lost a daughter in the attack, summed it up best. "People have a right to free speech. But if they're talking about sensitivities to 9/11 families, why are they rallying and doing events on a day we should spend thinking about those we lost?" she said.
We hope that the organizers of these events keep in mind that the commemorative events' true purpose should be to keep this tragedy fresh in the minds of Americans.
We must never forget Cathy Salter and the 2,997 others who perished on that tragic day and we shouldn't allow politics to make a mockery of the anniversary observances.