Tuesday, September 11, 2012

They Will Forget

One day we will forget 9/11.

One day it will be only the day on the calendar between September 10 and September 12.

One day, we won't remember the moments of the day.  The minute each plane hit.  The moment each World Trade Center collapsed.   The moment the Pentagon erupted in flames.  The moment Flight 93 plowed into a Pennsylvania field.

One day New York won't reschedule a primary election because it falls on September 11.

No, don't be angry at me.  I will remember September 11 for the rest of my life. I remember it every year.  First, it was my father in law's birthday (he would have been 75 on September 11, 2001 had he still been with us.)  Then, it became the day I watched in horror (after my employer hastily located a television) as the second tower fell, later finding out that one of my co workers lost his son on that day. His daughter in law was pregnant.  One of my cousins lost her next door neighbor.  The husband of a cousin lost his best friend.  13 people who went to my high school died that day.  Two of them left pregnant spouses.

Those children and others will be turning 11 in the next few months, and this is the point I want to make.  It is a point we may not like, but it is a point that history teaches us.

Our children will forget.  Or maybe our grandchildren.  It is happening right before our eyes.

I am the daughter of a World War II vet.  Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, is the date between December 6 and December 8.  It was also the birthday of one of my childhood friends.  It's interesting to me in a historic context, nothing more.  I was born over 10 years after it happened.  I lived in a post World War II world. World War II movies were a staple of Saturday afternoon TV in New York City. I grew up around adults who were Holocaust survivors.  But "December 7, the day of infamy" did not have the meaning to me that it did to my parents.  It couldn't.

My son was middle school age on September 11, 2001, and he remembers.  But those children who were 2 or 3 on that day, will they remember?  Will the 11 year olds, unless they lost a family member and 9/11 remembrance is something their families do every day?  Do you think the schools are teaching 9/11?  Some are.  Some aren't.  How about those homeschooling?  But even by learning at home or in a school building, 9/11 will never have the same meaning to them as it does to us. They live in a post 9/11 world.  The day itself will eventually be empty of meaning.

And maybe that isn't totally a bad thing.

As long as we give the day meaning, true meaning, and incorporate that meaning into our daily lives, our children will remember the meaning.  But they will turn that memory into something that matters to them, the generation that wasn't yet born.  They only know a post 9/11 world. We can never truly know what that means, to know a world from before that date we observe today.

Our world isn't theirs.

They will remember, but not the way we do.  Our job is to make sure they know about the day and its meaning, and let them sort it out..

But for now, my generation, and yours, will remember those innocents who died today.  Perhaps that is enough.


  1. Absolutely correct. This is NOT the sort of date that will be elevated in future consciousness as is 4 July. Nor should it be.

    1. Always a pleasure to receive a comment from you.

  2. Great post, and so true. People have an amazing ability to "carry on," even in the face of tragedy and devastation. What our nation suffered on 9/11/2001 will, like the Holocaust and Pearl Harbor, become part of the tapestry of our lives, but not the whole fabric.

    I think it's similar to how we cope with personal loss--when my Mom died, I couldn't imagine that life would be "normal" again, but after a week of grieving I had to return to work. I still had rent to pay. I still had friends to visit. And eventually, I learned what we all learn: Life goes on.

    Certainly personal tragedy isn't comparable to what the entire nation experienced eleven years ago, but our nation, too, went on. We continued to board airplanes, to mouth off at inconveniences, to expect everything to "carry on," because that's what we do.

    And as long as we have the stories and histories that we can turn to for reminders, I think you're right--we'll forget the horror, but keep the lessons. As long as any of us still breathe who WERE old enough to appreciate the magnitude of that attack, I hope we will always hold our memorials to honor the loss, the bravery, and the resilience of our nation.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Alana!

    1. So good to hear from you, Billie! Thank you.


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