How Can They Remember?

9/11/01. We were free to help the kids remember 9/11 today. That dilemma was best typified when a student came up to me and told me it was his birthday. He was 12 years old. How can he remember that which happened on his actual birthday? And so, class began…

“Twelve years ago today I was going to work and we heard on the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Most people thought it was a small private plane based on the reports and thought it was a sad thing. Then, while going to work we heard a reporter describe a plane flying into one of the Towers. We thought it was a replay of the original one until we realized that no reporter was on the scene for the first one. One was an accident. Two planes were an attack.” I mentioned my fears as I saw the towers burning. I thought of all the people who would be there and told them that I had expected even more casualties. I pointed out that on September 11 the world changed. But they wouldn’t know it, because they grew up in the changed world.

Many had flown on airplanes. I noted that before this happened if my wife was flying I could go to the gate and see her off. I could go to the gate and pick her up and not have to wait outside that little TSA stand. I noted that we didn’t have to take off our shoes and get practically undressed to go through security and that on September 10, 2001 anyone who had told us that we would have to go through that to get on an airplane would be laughed out of the building. Yet now we do. I talked about the war on terror and the soldiers who left home and family. All these changes due to the events of 9/11. I hope they remember 9/11 the way I remember Pearl Harbor. I can’t understand all the feelings, but I have a small inkling of the impact that attack had on our world.

But then I asked them to really think about it. What would it be like to live in a world where there was no fear of any of these terrorist attacks? How would the world be different?  I told them that this was the world that I prayed that they would return to. Then they had to write about it. Then they had to get back to work because life goes on.

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