Two weeks ago our nation paused to remember the tragedy and horror of Sept. 11, 20 years ago.

Looking at photos from that day still bring back such a deep emotional response for many of us even after so many years. For me, I still remember how beautiful the day began with the most wonderful blue sky on a gorgeous September morning in New York. How quickly it darkened that day for so many in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon, on Fight 93 and for families and loved ones of those lost.

President Biden was correct when he stated that, “These memorials are really important, but they’re also incredibly difficult for the people affected by them, because it brings back the moment they got the phone call, it brings back the instant they got the news, no matter how years go by.” The pain is still very real for many.

Recent events in Afghanistan made this remembrance all the more poignant as we come to grips with some harsh realities 20 years later. Without giving in to the many conspiracy theories that consume social media, some points are worthy of inquiry if we are to move ahead, better able to deal with the dangers that our nation is faced with today.

It still seems ironic that 15 of the 19 hijackers that day were Saudi nationals, but we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Going further, our government classified documents, prevented lawsuits, and continues a cozy relationship with the House of Saud all these years later.

Headlines over the past few weeks carry horror stories of how the Taliban in Afghanistan treat women, but yet no headlines on how women are treated in Saudi Arabia, where women are officially treated as permanent legal minors. Saudi Arabia’s is by far the most draconian in the extent of its laws and regulations based on the male guardianship system over women.

Here in this country, states such as Texas seem to be moving in a similar direction with recent laws denying women the right to choose. Many in Florida are already salivating at similar restrictive legislation passing through the state legislature. Manatee County did not even want to wait for state action and rushed this week to create a “Safe Haven” from abortion and to deny rights for women to decide what is best for themselves.

Thankfully our local elected officials here in Wilton Manors think otherwise and took a firm stand on defending a woman’s right to choose. At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting a resolution was passed by a unanimous vote calling upon the Florida Legislature to take action safeguarding the fundamental constitutional right to abortion and opposing the latest efforts of several states to limit and outright ban abortion. Bravo to Commissioner Chris Caputo for bringing this resolution forward and bravo to our elected officials for strongly supporting passage. Unfortunately many more calls to action will be needed in the days and months ahead to prevent the continued backward march on individual rights and freedoms in our society.

Also this week, city budget season entered the final stages as our city commission held a Public Hearing on the proposed budget for an upcoming fiscal year this past Monday night. Commissioner Mike Bracchi gets high marks for being well-prepared for the meeting, holding firm on very important key points, and demonstrating a solid understanding of the financial realities facing our city. Good fiscal leadership needs to look down the road, at what effects decisions made today will have on the future sustainability of our city. Commissioner Bracchi demonstrated such leadership throughout the budget process and definitely during Monday night’s meeting. The experience gained by serving on the Budget Review Advisory Committee before being elected as commissioner is an asset that will reap benefits as Commissioner Bracchi becomes a strong guardian of fiscal responsibility for our city’s taxpayers. Much input by many over the last few months will reach the final stage this coming Monday, Sept. 20, when the city commission will conduct the Final Public Hearing and vote on final approval.

Also making headlines, continued news of the devastating opioid epidemic. Families destroyed, loved ones lost, billions of dollars spent and still overdose fatalities continue to rise. Sadly, opium production surged in Afghanistan after the U.S. sent military forces into the country in 2001, which now accounts for more than 80% of the world’s supply. During the same 20 years opioid-involved overdose deaths in the U.S. rose five times to almost 50,000 per year. The blatant reality of complicity is hard to turn a blind eye to.

Harsh realities are sometimes made easier when you have a scapegoat. Casting blame to cover up failed policies and mistakes may make us feel better but does little to correct the ills from haunting us again and again. Having an honest debate on what has taken place in the 20 years since the horror that scarred our nation that beautiful September morning is the only way we can successfully move beyond the tragedy, to truly heal, and come away stronger as a nation. Having such an honest conversation will only make life just better here...


Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.