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9/11 hit home 3,000 miles away from New York

When the planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the Mail Tribune newsroom responded by doing what we knew best. We put out a newspaper.

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Not just any newspaper, but a special edition, printed in the middle of the day and sold on the streets of Medford. The initial 7,000-copy run sold out, raising $4,000 for the Red Cross. People were anxious for all the news they could get.

The local stories were about ordinary folks caught up in the immediate aftermath of the attacks — some diverted to the Medford airport when air traffic was grounded. One man interviewed as he watched replays of the attacks in the airport lobby was a travel agent with an office across the street from the World Trade Center. He didn’t know, that morning, whether his office was unscathed or whether family members in New York City were safe.

Those who remember that day recall exactly where they were when they heard the news, and their reactions to the tragedy. Those too young to remember, or not yet born, may see the attacks as just another event in history.

They were much more than that, and it’s important that we not lose the memory of that day and the days that followed. In that spirit, we offer a reprint of the editorial that appeared in the Mail Tribune on Sunday, Sept. 16, five days after the attacks.

We would like to think that the sentiment still holds true today, as we face new challenges.

There are no football games today.

Out of respect for the staggering loss felt by all Americans this past week, NFL stadiums will stand empty, the cheers silenced.

There have been no Major League Baseball games since the planes plowed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The National Pastime, this past week, has been to mourn the dead, to search for survivors and to hunt down those responsible.

Those important tasks continue, and will for a long time to come.

Those of us who live far from the scenes of devastation also have an important job to do. Our job is to go on, to resume living our lives.

We must do this in memory of those who perished, for they would have wanted us to.We must do this for our children, as an example of how grownups deal with tragedy, by picking ourselves up and going back to work.

We must do this as a signal to the world that we are not defeated, that America is not defeated.

Most important of all, we must do this in response to the terrorists themselves. Because if we do not, if we stop living life in defiance of death, then they have won.

The National Football League decided, for a number of reasons, not to play today. It was the right call.

Most major college games scheduled for Saturday also were canceled. That was the right call, too.

High school games here went ahead Friday night as scheduled, and that, too, was correct. High-school students were in class all week, doing what they needed to do — to share their reactions with their peers and with their teachers, to try to make some sense out of a senseless act, and to maintain some normalcy in a world gone horribly wrong. To cancel the games would have sent the wrong message.

Now it is time for the rest of us to follow them, to send our own message. Baseball games resume tomorrow, and that should be our signal.

Grown men playing a game may seem out of place, hopelessly trivial in the face of such enormous evil. Of course it is. But this mundane pursuit and others like it have enormous symbolic power.

Resuming normal, everyday activities does not in any way diminish the loss we have suffered, the pain we feel, or the mourning we continue to work through. But it does send a message to our children, to the rest of the world and to ourselves.

It says, “We are not defeated. We are still here, and we are going about our business just as we always have.”

So, go. Go to a game, a concert, a movie. Go fishing, or hike in the woods. Watch something on TV that doesn’t involve scenes of devastation.

Play ball.