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I.C. MURRELL — We acted after 9-11. Let’s act on 11-3.

Today is Sept. 11.

A certain feeling should overcome me like it did in 2001. One shouldn’t be so immune or forgetful to the importance of this date.

My head tilted two directions once I took my seat in a speech class at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The first was forward to look at the TV sitting on a rolling cart (flatscreens weren’t commonplace just yet) and watch Katie Couric describe the visual of a smoking World Trade Center tower live. No more than 14 minutes would have passed since a plane hit the tower because my class began at 8 a.m.

After a few minutes, the second direction was down to my textbook to preview our lesson. Sometime after that, the row of athletes sitting behind me reacted to another moving picture with a big “Whoa!”

Just my luck. I missed something live.

Worse than that, America came under attack.

What did we do? We tightened up security at airports and mass-gathering sites like sporting venues. We went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Maybe all that was at the stroke of a presidential pen, but it’s what America did.

As citizens, we collectively became more vigilant against attacks and gave aid to those directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Anyone who didn’t understand a thing about national movements and facing adversity against our country before the coronavirus pandemic needed only to look back to that day and the days that followed. It was numbing.

Yet, I was somehow unaware today was coming so soon. Don’t mistake that, however, for ignorance.

Flash forward to today’s pandemics — systemic racism plaguing our country alongside coronavirus — and ignorance will stunt our progress for as long as we allow it.

Will we as a country collectively stand vigil against such attacks and aid those directly affected? Does the true character of a human rest on his or her response to these things?

By the time you read this, the National Football League will have kicked off its 101st season, and there’s nothing normal about it.

Crowds will be smaller. Change will be demanded. Preseason football did not exist. Steve Levy will call Monday night football games.

All of that is fine with me.

More than ever, players and coaches are voicing out against the everyday ills of society, but this time they have the full backing of league commissioner Roger Goodell. No longer is the NFL — or any league, for that matter — just a way for everyone to pass the time and escape from the real world. The demand for social improvement isn’t going away that easily.

If anyone says there’s no political correctness to speaking out for justice of those who fell victim to corrupt policing, they are correct. It’s not a matter of political correctness. It’s using a large platform for the better.

It’s kind of hard to function in the democratic process when one is left behind in society. That is an ongoing fear well beyond the sports world.

According to a February 2018 article on the Center for American Progress website, civic knowledge and public engagement was at an all-time low. The article cited a 2016 survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in finding that 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government — a decline from previous years, it was noted — public trust in government is at 18 percent and voter participation was at its lowest point since 1996.

To be clear, 2016 and 1996 were presidential election years. So is 2020.

To further understand the link between voting and calls for justice:

Voting for everyone from president on down to city councilmember is exercising a right and responsibility for operating a democratic society and not only putting faith in one to defend the constitutional rights of all but also calling for things such as community-minded policing; more diverse, well-funded schools; access to healthier foods and medical care; a stronger electric infrastructure and more. Voting for or against every tax measure is to voice how every location should be financially supported and how much of every dollar every family should keep.

People like me have lifted our voices and peacefully protested (or in the interest of journalism used the printed word to carry the message further). Some rioted, and that’s gone on long enough (the destruction of which has been covered extensively, as well).

If we don’t voice — peacefully — how our governments should look at the polls on Nov. 3 (or during early voting), all our lifted voices will fall on deaf ears, and our pandemics will likely continue.

All we have to do is act. Those we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, will thank you from Heaven.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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