OCEAN CITY — Mayor Rick Meehan was in a decidedly reflective mood this week as he called on his fellow citizens to remember the 9/11 tragedy and use its lessons to help cure the ills plaguing America nearly 20 years later.
Almost no one will forget what happened on that fateful September day in 2001, but as the years go by, some of the lessons learned and the memory of how the tragedy pulled all Americans together begin to fade. The messages of unity and how an entire nation came together in a singular cause is, perhaps, more important now than ever in an increasingly divisive and fractured nation.
That was the message Meehan got across this week as he reflected on the pending anniversary near the close of Tuesday’s meeting. For years, the Red Knights firefighter and biker club held a parade down the Boardwalk on 9/11, culminating with a solemn ceremony at the Firefighter’s Memorial at North Division Street. That event, like so many others this year, has been cancelled because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns, and Meehan wanted to make sure the anniversary did not pass unnoticed in the resort.
“This Friday is 9/11 and we haven’t heard a lot about 9/11 this year, but I think we all remember what happened in 2001,” he said. “It was the single biggest tragedy to ever take place on the continental United States. It’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Meehan said nearly two decades after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and in rural farmland in Pennsylvania, it was still important to mark the solemn occasion.
“Almost 20 years have gone by and there is a whole generation that wasn’t here that would remember or even know about 9/11,” he said. “Thousands of families were affected on that day and even still today. It’s something we all have to keep on our minds at all times.”
The mayor pointed out how Americans all across the country came together with a singular resolve following that fateful Tuesday morning.
“It also drew our country together,” he said. “Everyone was standing side by side. We were standing for the flag, we were standing at sporting events and at ball games. It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes something like that to bring the country together, but it certainly did. We can all learn from that tragedy and try to do better as a country.”
Meehan said between the ongoing COVID pandemic, and the civil unrest around the country, along with what is quickly becoming a very nasty election, the lessons of 9/11 are perhaps more important now than ever.
“When I look back and remember what happened on that day and how it affected everybody, it’s so much more important for us to remember how close we all got and how important it is for the country to stand together,” he said. “In these very uncertain times with some of the things going on in our country, we can look back at that tragedy and how we all overcame that together.”
The mayor called on Ocean City residents and visitors along with citizens all over the country to reflect on those lessons in a quiet, reflective way on Friday, absent a formal special commemoration event.
“Let’s use it as a way to guide us through this,” he said. “Let’s get everybody back together. That’s the lesson we should learn and maybe we can remember the lives that were lost to benefit all of us in the long run. Let’s all remember and take a moment to say a prayer for those who gave their lives and those who lost their lives and say a prayer for this great country.”