Last Sunday was the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. It’s a day that our generation and all living generations before us will never forget. However, the future generations, the ones that won’t remember the day when Americans everywhere stopped what they were doing so they could stare with horror at their television screen, those generations won’t remember –they quite literally won’t be able to. It’s shocking to realize that there are already kids almost old enough to drive who weren’t even born when 9/11 occurred.
This raises the question of what we should do, as a nation, to keep this memory. Should we keep it fresh and in the backs of everyone’s minds, or will it eventually fade away to some random day in history that are mentioned by news stations? Should the topic be saved for history class, like most other major historical events?
As you may or may not have noticed, this year was the first one I can think of where companies (or at least two particular companies, one being a mattress company and another being Coca-Cola) used 9/11 as a means to promote its sales in one way or another. It really made me start wondering – will 9/11 start being a simple day in history, similar to that of what happened with Pearl Harbor Day? Most importantly, should it?
Sept. 11, 2001 was a defining day in our country’s history. While other dates in history were to commemorate wars that have been settled, the war on terrorism is an ever-present threat. While it may not be an immediate and (entirely) ominous threat, it is –and perhaps always will be—an ever-present threat nonetheless, especially what with ISIS. (While they may not be attacking the US right now, they are taking France by storm.) Therefore, I feel as though it is important to give Sept. 11 special consideration. Not only due to the significant loss of life that day, but also because, unlike war against other countries, the threat has not been diminished in the same way that, for example, the Revolutionary or World Wars were.
Finally, how do we manage to commemorate Sept. 11 in a way that future generations will fully understand the impacts that it caused? They can’t see the scars in Shanksville or the bare land where the Twin Towers once stood. They won’t watch the television as soldiers are deployed to begin a war. They won’t watch live as the towers crumble in on hundreds of men and women. To them, the videos of which will just be another token of history on the TV, more people dead, more desensitization to the violence that is now so prevalent both on TV and in real life.
It’s tricky: how do we tell our kids about the day these attacks happened, and why they’re so important? How do we keep these memories alive when the last survivors, researchers, and investigators of the attacks die as well? How do we teach without desensitizing or tiptoeing around the matter?
The last year I was in high school was the first year I read about 9/11 in my history book. The information was fleeting; probably because every student was 3 or 4-years-old when the actual event happened and, granted that it was a horrific event, they likely remembered it if they saw it on TV. However, for future generations, this must be changed. Perhaps our schools should teach with old documentaries from it, or cite from documentaries for textbooks. While we should not create deep fear, hatred, or prejudice over it, we should also not shy away from talking about exactly who created the attacks and why. Sheer facts and information is not politically incorrect, though it’s sometimes treated as such in today’s society.
Finally, we shouldn’t let the lives of all those people fade into a simple quantity. While listing the names of all the people who died that day would be inefficient for space in a textbook, perhaps we should ourselves set out to remind our children and future generations that people like you and I died that day –not just a remote number that’s hard to grasp or feel an ounce of sorrow for. Also, textbooks could also include some personal accounts from first responders or survivors – and if they don’t, we should read them ourselves.
What’s your opinion? I’ve asked the questions I want to present at the beginning of the article; what’s your response to it all, reader? Personally, I never want future generations to feel the pain and fear that that day caused firsthand. I don’t want future generations to forget and go slack on prevention efforts, either – or seeking out prevention efforts so that something like this isn’t so easily to happen again. Above all, I don’t want the lives of those who died that day, and the soldiers who died every day after in the War on Terrorism, to go in vain or forgotten. Much like we remember wars for our country’s freedom, and created constitutions or other articles to ensure that such a threat or disagreement is less likely to happen in the future, we should remember this, simply in a different manner.