One Year Later, It’s Time To Take Back September

One Year Later, It's Time To Take Back September BY KELLY HERTZ September.

That's become such a grim, aching word in our language this past year.

Remember the things that once leapt to mind with the mention of September? Football games, fields ready for harvest, cool nights, soft days, red-hot pennant races, the fading of summer, the gentle caress of early fall, busy schools, turning leaves … so many comfortable images that made up an idealistic tapestry for a very comfortable time of year.

But then came the attacks — another word that has mutated in meaning for us.

Now there is a nervous feeling of recollection in the air that dwarfs what we knew before. Next week, we will remember 9/11 and confront terrible images we can't bear seeing again, but from which we probably won't be able to turn away. They are still too vivid, still too much a part of us.

We will remember the day when everything, including the month of September, changed.

September was once a time to look forward. Then it became a time trapped in an awful dream, as well as a vulnerable, uncertain time to wonder what could happen next.

September was once a season of harvest moons. Then it became a season of mourning.

September used to be simple. Then it became unforgiving, hard and unthinkable.

September used to be fluid — not quite summer and not nearly winter, but with elements of both washing gently at our souls. Now it will stand as a tombstone in our national memory for at least a generation.

But perhaps it's time now to do exactly what we've been striving to do for almost a year. We've been told repeatedly that we must return somehow to our normal routines, for it is the best way to strike back at terrorism and take back our lives.

Therefore, I think it's time to take back September. The month belongs to us, not to the murderers who conspired to destroy us.

The next few days will be filled with overwhelming solemnness as we recall and relive 9/11. We've spent the last 12 months confronting this new era of fear and war, and we've gone a long way toward accepting the world for what it is. Those are the consequences of September 2001. It's what the terrorists have made of us, for better and for worse.

But this September must see a course correction. We must resolve to make this month what it used to be: A peaceful time of transition, a time of harvest, a season of change in our lives. We must learn to celebrate life again, not live in fear of it.

If we don't, we will have lost the battle.

We certainly shouldn't forget 9/11 or ever forget the victims of that day. They will always haunt our memories and pilot our prayers. But the September that those souls knew right up to the last moments of their lives must be the one we keep in our hearts and reestablish in this wounded world.

There comes a time when we have to remember the intangible things we are fighting for. And in a sense, we are fighting for those old Septembers. We are fighting for the harvests and the games and the hints of fall — things that were pleasantly essential to our way of life at summer's end. We are fighting to live in such a month again. It can begin Wednesday: Yes, we must come to grips with the weight of history, but we should also decide that it is time for this nation to heal and move forward.

That's what our Septembers simply have to become: a time of reflection but also a time of autumnal renewal. In the wake of all we've endured, that must be our harvest.

To contact Kelly Hertz, e-mail him at khertz@yankton.net.

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