It always feels weird saying "Never Forget."

How could we? Seriously, it's impossible for me to forget what transpired on 9/11/2001. All of us older than around 30 or so can remember exactly where we were, what we were doing and who we were with twenty years ago on September 11th.

Most years since, I usually try to connect with the friends I was with two decades ago, as we watched it unfold on TV. I was living in Denver. My Montana buddies came down for a Rockies game and the first game at the brand-new Bronco stadium. The weather was perfect and good times were in the air.

The following morning was 9/11

My friends couldn't leave for days. There were no rental cars available, the second after every commercial flight in America was grounded. The pile of pizza boxes began to stack up by my apartment door, as we sat and watched, shaking our heads. Tears fell, then rage, then questions about whomever could have done this? The only sound we noticed were the constant rumble of fighter planes circling the skies over Denver, mixed with eerie silence and fear. Everything basically stopped.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media

I'm sure you remember every detail of 9/11 too.

I do hope we "never forget", but that's one of the weird thing about time. They say it heals all, but how can it heal something it doesn't know? All of my kids (ages 23 to 5) were either toddlers or not even conceived. It's impossible for them to truly understand what all of us experienced on that day in 2001.

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Photo by Sherie Brooks, used with permission
Photo by Sherie Brooks, used with permission

Some Ways to Remember 9/11 this weekend.

As the 20th anniversary weekend approaches, here are a few events around Billings that you can attend, participate or watch to help commemorate and remember 9/11:

  • Healing Field. Now in its 4th year, the Exchange Club of Laurel is hosting the Healing Field at South School (606 S 5th St, Laurel) from 9/9 to 9/12. The rows of 1,000 US flags is sobering. It's free and is worth the drive to Laurel to see.
  • United We Stand Car Cruise. Hosted by the Outlaws of Octane car club, the annual 9/11 cruise begins at 2:30 pm Saturday at All American Pharmaceutical in the Heights. There is no cost to enter the parade and all makes and models are welcome. Many of the clubs members are veterans.
  • 9-11 Remembrance Ride. This motorcycle ride departs from the Laurel IGA on Saturday (9/11) at 11 am and always draws a huge amount of riders. Signups start at 9:30 (IGA parking lot) and the first stop is a remembrance ceremony at the Yellowstone County Courthouse at 11:30 am. All makes and models encouraged and it's free.
  • Exhibit: 9/11 The Day That Changed the World. Billings Public Library is hosting a 14 poster exhibit from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Open daily, free.

If you have an event to add to this list, please leave a Comment.

However you choose to remember 9/11, I hope it includes meaningful conversation with those too young to remember. Many of our veterans who have served in the Middle East may be having an especially tough time this anniversary, thanks to the recent debacle in Afghanistan. Please express compassion and gratitude. Thank you to those who've served and sacrificed.

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