‘If you see something, say something.” It’s a phase that has become a kind of national motto, an informal and ubiquitous call to action in our post 9/11 world.

In fact, the phrase was coined by advertising executive Allen Kay in New York, the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago this month, according to a 2016 article in The Washington Post. The phrase was not intended for any particular client, the newspaper reported, Kay was just looking for something positive to say — to jot down — just after the devastating attacks that claimed thousands of lives.

But the importance of that message remains important today, anywhere we might be.

Just last week, four teenagers were charged with planning a violent attack on their high school in Dunmore, a borough that adjoins Scranton, about 90 miles to our northeast.

A 15-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy were charged as adults and two other teens face charges in juvenile court for allegedly planning an armed attack at their high school on April 20, 2024, the 25th anniversary of the murderous rampage at Colorado’s Columbine High School, investigators said.

Because some people — including the mother of one of the teens — said something after noticing suspicious activity, authorities were able to intercede and prevent any possibility of violence.

“Across the country, in our communities, we share everyday moments with our neighbors, family, coworkers and friends,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) writes on its website. “We go to work or school, the grocery store or the gas station. It’s easy to overlook these routine moments, but as you’re going about your day, if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, say something. By being alert and reporting suspicious activity to your local law enforcement, you can protect your family, neighbors and community.”

It’s not anything we want to obsess over, but its good for all of us to be aware of potential danger signs or signals and report them if they pop up in our everyday lives. It’s just good citizenship.

We are three days late here, but Saturday, Sept. 25, was National “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day a campaign that works year-round to “inspire, empower and educate the public on suspicious activity reporting.”

One of those awareness items involves how to report suspicious activity.

The DHS recommends the “5Ws.” If you see suspicious activity, report to local law enforcement or a person of authority: Who you saw, What you saw, When you saw it, Where it occurred and Why you think it may be suspicious.

It may be nothing, and that’s fine, but it also could be key information that ultimately could save lives.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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