Passing on the importance of September 11
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Let this sink in: our generation is the last to remember what it was like to live Sept. 11, 2001.
On that day 11 years ago, we remember where we were and what we were doing. We watched the towers crumble to the ground, the smoke billowing from the Pentagon, and the panic that unfolded in a field in Somerset County, Pa. As a nation, we sat in horror, in confusion, in fear.
We cannot and should not forget, and it’s on our generation to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Here’s something to put things in perspective: anybody younger than the children that are in fourth grade was not alive on that day. The current freshman class was only in second grade. It’s safe to say that anyone younger than that won’t remember what happened. It’ll soon be reduced to history books and 20 seconds on the evening news.
But those who witnessed it remember, and we feel it every Sept. 11. We’ve grown up in the aftermath, in the war, witnessing the best and the worst of a nation. For some, the memories are still enough to evoke panic; for others, it brings anger.
It should never bring apathy, though.
For our generation, it was the first event of its nature for us. We never witnessed the Kennedy assassination or Pearl Harbor. Like our parents trying to put those events into perspective for us, we will someday have to put 9/11 into perspective for the next generation. Yes, it will be difficult for us to make future generations feel as we feel. We felt and hurt as a whole that day, and there aren’t enough words to replicate that emotion. But we can find ways to try.
Nearly 3,000 people died from the crashes. The number of first responder deaths nears 1,000. Illnesses related to the attacks have passed the 1,000 mark, and tens of thousands more are being treated or monitored. The attacks had an impact on 90 countries from all corners of the world. Brothers, mothers, uncles and daughters all perished.
We owe it to every single one of them to keep their memories alive.
Sept. 11, 2001 was not just a day that came and went; it wiped the slate clean. We found ourselves cautious, even anxious. The thought of flying elicited fear too great to go through with it, and we watched what we said and who we said it to. We had new approaches to life, new opinions. It created love, and it also created a lot of hate.
America wasn’t this indestructible red, white and blue symbol of strength and freedom after all. It was the first time many saw how vulnerable we really are.
We woke up.
Everybody goes at doing so differently. Media organizations all have their individual takes on how the anniversary should be covered, some choosing to re-air the full real time coverage, others reducing the memory to a couple of paragraphs in the middle of the publication. Candlelight vigils are held and memorials are visited; scholars study its cause, and authors work it into their plots.
But no matter how we approach it – be it through flags strewn on the fences at Ground Zero or just by thanking your men in service – don’t forget to remember.