2013-09-12 / Opinion



T hose who turned out last week for the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Claiborne Pell Elementary School were greeted with a picture perfect day, complete with blue skies overhead and nary a cloud in the sky.

Inside, the mood was even brighter.

Beaming as brightly as the sun were the faces of parents, teachers, administration officials, and students who were given their first look inside the sprawling, state-of-the-art facility.

If first impressions are as important as people say they are, then the Pell School certainly got off on the right foot.

Though it’s too early to tell whether the school will fulfill the grand expectations that its proponents set for it over the last several years, there’s little doubt that the facility represents a vast improvement over the city’s now vacant schools.

Three years ago, Newport voters gave their approval to invest $30 million into brick and mortar. It now falls to us as a community to ensure that our children are given an education worthy of that investment.

We should all be proud that Newport’s youngest citizens now go to a school that is so clearly filled with pride in structure. Let’s now do our part to see that pride in place permeates throughout our public school system.


Wednesday marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. It’s almost surreal to think that it’s been so long since that pivotal day. So much has happened. So little has changed.

On the eve of this year’s anniversary, the attention of the nation was once again fixated on the Middle East, where conflict is unavoidable and peace unattainable.

Nearly 12 years to the day that then – President Bush addressed the nation in an Oval Office speech, President Obama – who had pledged to usher in a new era of civility and diplomacy – once again took to prime time to gird the nation over the potential use of military action in the Middle East.

That we find ourselves still entangled in foreign conflicts without clear and attainable objectives is troubling to say the least. But that we seem weaker somehow in the court of international opinion is perhaps even more cause for concern.

There is no doubt that America still boasts the most professional and capable military in the world. And if recent revelations over the scope of our national security programs are any indication, there is reason to believe that we also boast the world’s most expansive surveillance and intelligence apparatus.

What we seem to be lacking is a collective memory.

Those who study it will tell you that history has a rhythm, made up of cycles and pendulum swings that act like a metronome.

If we forget the lessons of 9/11, and more specifically, the events that led up to that day, we will be destined to live through another set of events that will leave us once again shaken and battered.

Earlier this week, we commemorated the legacy of Oliver Hazard Perry – a war hero and early Newporter who changed the course of American history.

Perry was known to have been a student of history, and it is no coincidence that he was able to earn his place in ours.

That is why this week – after we have flirted once again with making the same mistakes as we have in the past – we should all take a moment to remember and relive the events of September 2001.

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