Thursday, September 11, 2014

RE: Sept. 11th, 2001

It would seem, now that I've remembered I have a blog, I keep having thoughts that I want to put out there, and this is the perfect platform to do that, and since I keep seeing 9/11 thoughts on Facebook, etc, I thought I'd add myself to the mix. So here we go:

Today, in Sondheim Hall between classes, I heard one girl saying, "Why don't we have off from school today? It's like a national day of mourning. We were like, in third grade and we remember being scared and s**t".

While I agree that 9/11/01 was a terrible, horrible day, and I also remember (as a 4th grader) watching the news that whole day, powerless to tear my eyes away (and as a homeschooler, allowed to watch!), I don't think that we should get off from school, and I think it's a specific kind of self-centered attitude that leads someone to say that (not calling that girl out, I completely understand how she feels regarding how she remembers the day).

However, if you go with the idea that we should get off of school to remember national tragedies, then you'd be off of school pretty much every single day. Imagine it - there would be "Lexington and Concord Day" to mourn those lost in the Revolutionary War, "Gettysburg Day" and "Antietam Day" for the thousands of men brutally killed in the Civil War, "Lusitania Day", "Titanic Day" and so on. Tragedies and wars define history, and while the 9/11/01 attacks are still fresh in the mind of our generation, the past holds many tragedies and I'm sure the future will hold many more. I think Sept. 11th will always be a day we remember the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Stony Creek PA crashes, but eventually, it will be like Pearl Harbor Day - something we (here "we" means the general American public) know was a tragedy but don't personally recall.

I have eight younger siblings. Of the nine of us, only the first four of us can recall 9/11/01. My sister Stephanie was born before 9/11/01 but I would say she lives in a post-attack generation, and the rest of them were born after the attacks. Each year, many of my friends say "I remember where I was when it happened, how I heard it had happened, etc". But for five of my younger siblings, there is no "pre-9/11" in their mind. Something else will define them and their generation. I remember in 7th grade science, my teacher talked about watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon (that is a moment I wish I could remember - a happier definition of a generation!). If my younger siblings got today off from school, they would be happy for the day off, but it wouldn't be giving them a chance to remember - it would become a day of late summer BBQs instead of a day of remembrance.

Should we have monuments and memorials for the attacks? Absolutely. The families of those who died deserve to know that their loved ones were important and that we're not ignoring them. I'm not suggesting that we ignore it, and since I didn't personally lose someone in those attacks, I know it's easier for me to say this than it might be for someone else. I'm simply suggesting that we not do this "selectionist history" where we only remember things we personally want to care about. We (here "we" means my generation) should consider ourselves lucky that we grow up in a world where only one tragedy defines our childhood, unlike some of our counterparts in other nations who's entire lives have been defined by genocides and other horrible daily occurrences, instead of once in a lifetime.

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