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“Never Forget”

I remember when…

The first words of self-reflection or first-person historical accounts typically begin with similar words. For example, I remember when $15 filled up my 1987 Honda Accord. I remember what life was like without a cell phone. I remember when we all thought 2008 would correspond with flying cars.

I also remember when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, along with the Pentagon and a rural field in Pennsylvania. I remember the day at work, watching events transpire on television, and knee-jerk reactions from people buying up all the water and food at local Wal-Mart stores. I also remember the phrase, slogan, and signs on 75% of America’s vehicles with the phrase, “Never Forget“. I was alive to experience it. I saw it. Many of you did too, and can recall your own reactions and feelings of that day.

I’m not here to personally reflect though. I don’t like “Chicken Soup for the Soul” moments shoved down my throat anymore than you do.

Instead, I’m here to regretfully say, one of this nation’s biggest tragedies and source of heartache, frustration, and anger…has indeed…been forgotten. No, not to those who remember it, but for the generation that followed; for the 4, 5, and 6 year olds who now attend my 6th grade classroom. This week was the 7th anniversary of “9-11“. A moment of silence was observed in most school’s, right at the time (8:46 EST) the first tower was directly hit. While the majority of students (ranging in ages 11-12) recalled what their parents had told them, or programs they had watched about that day, several mentioned last Thursday was the first time they had heard about “9-11”.

How did we forget? How does this happen? Does it take seven (7) years to forget something?

Now obviously, I’m not in the homes of my students…I don’t know what they’re taught, told, or reminded of. I understand the diversity and differences in culture, I even understand America may not be the “homeland” for thousands of today’s students. But I can’t comprehend an 11 or 12 year old living in America NOT knowing about September 11th.

I guess it’s not too unbelievable. I’m sure those Americans in the early 60’s never imagined a generation that didn’t know where Kennedy was shot, or what impact a man named Martin Luther King had on our society. Certainly, humans are prone to forgetfulness…especially if not reminded. We all choose to remember the things we want to and the the things we’re forced to. And maybe that’s just it…in seven years, a generation hasn’t been forced to remember what our country said we’ll NEVER FORGET.

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  1. As a history guy, it’s hard for me to watch people forget such pivotal events. Non-historians often don’t have a grasp on the gravity of events going on around them – they don’t see the world around them as pages in a future history book. Part of it may also be that the war – and the ongoing debate thereto – have greatly overshadowed the events that led to it.

    Also, as you alluded to, perhaps it’s a good thing that kids don’t have to face the gut-deep fear we did on that clear blue morning. Better that they forget, than be reminded by new attacks.

  2. Great post! I remember exactly where I was. VIVIDLY! I think it is our responsibility to remember, remind and educate!

  3. you want some WacArnolds you gotta come through me! Calvin got that on lock down! I’m calvin around here everbody know who i am!