As we pause later this week to remember the anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attacks on our nation 19 years ago, I want to issue a couple of challenges.

Remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Remember the innocent people who went to work in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon and never went home.

Remember those who were on the planes the cowards used as weapons to take so many lives and do so much damage.

Remember the heroes who ran into burning buildings while others were running out.

It’s not easy or natural to remember such tragic events. It was one of our country’s darkest days, and the gut reaction when such things occur is to flush them from our memories as quickly as possible.

I tried to do just that in the days following Sept. 11, 2001.

My only child was 16 days old when it happened. Like I had done each night the first two weeks of his life, I tucked him into bed, kissed his fuzzy noggin and promised nothing would ever happen to him or his mama as long as I was around.

The next morning, I found myself holding him, apologizing for bringing him into this messed up world and feeling helpless and afraid I wouldn’t be able to honor that promise to keep him and his mama safe.

Three days later, I left them and drove a couple of hours north to cover a high school football game. My broken heart wasn’t into it, but I had a job to do.

Driving through Quitman, I got a “sign” that everything was going to be OK when the words “Pray for our country — grades due Thursday” appeared on the high school marquee.

I laughed until I cried. Then, I cried until I laughed again. And, it hit me.

We were going to be OK. We had to be OK, or the bad guys won and all of those innocent people and heroes who died three days earlier died for no reason.

“Never forget” became a popular slogan for the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and I couldn’t agree more. We should never forget to honor those we lost on that day, but I like to think that slogan means more.

So, here’s my other challenge. At least once each day, don’t forget to:

Smile. Someone having a bad day might need to see it, and someone having a good day might enjoy the company. If nothing else, you’ll drive that person who is perpetually cranky and never smiles downright crazy.

Cry. It doesn’t have to be a sob fest, but shed a sad tear over a lost loved one or a happy tear over the new flavor of Blue Bell Ice Cream. Don’t let emotions build up and wear you down.

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence. Not ashamed to admit I cried like a baby over that one.

Dance. I dance like Otis the town drunk from Mayberry after nickel night at the Hooch Hut, but it doesn’t stop me from busting a move at least once a day. And, trust me when I tell you …when I bust a move, it stays busted.

Sing. I sing worse than I dance. Imagine two cats having a romantic interlude and then bursting into flames. I sound worse than that, but it doesn’t stop me. My attempt at singing might be what makes another person smile. Or cry.

Pet a dog. It’s simply not possible to stay in a bad mood while scratching a dog’s belly.

These are just a few suggestions, but bottom line, do something each day to make yourself happy. If you do that, the people who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t die in vain.

And the bad guys didn’t win.

Jack Stallard is sports editor of the News-Journal. Email:; follow on Twitter @lnjsports.