Never Forget

Today, I’ll go about my usual routine, but everything will have the sacred stillness of an abandoned battlefield. I’ll turn on the over-the-air news and be disappointed that they aren’t broadcasting the reading of the names. They don’t seem to show that anymore on non-cable channels, and I’m not sure if they show it on cable channels either since I haven’t had it in years. I guess celebrity news and weather stories are more important than remembering, even if it happened a few blocks from where their studio sits.

I’ll spend the day with middle schoolers who weren’t even born when it happened and high schoolers who were too young to remember but who at least still know why this day is special.

I’ll remember what it was like to be my students’ age, watching the events unfold. Waiting. Praying. Wondering when Dad will get home because he worked by a potential target. Wondering where that last plane was. Remembering the loss and the incredible courage. Remembering what it was like to look outside and not see a single airplane — something unfathomable, living so close to an airport.

I’ll remember stumbling across Shanksville on a family road trip six months later. At a gas station, we asked where Flight 93 went down and drove through winding neighborhoods to pay our respects. Nothing but a fence covered in mementos, a mound already covered again with grass, and a resident volunteer sitting there to watch over the site and talk to those who stopped.

The Chain Link Fence in Shanksville

Gettysburg was sobering, but this was a different kind of sobering. Sorrow mixed with pride. This is what it is to be an American: if someone plans to take us down, we fight.

Today, I’ll remember it all because we must never forget.

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3 responses to “Never Forget

  • C.B. Wentworth

    I put out artifacts from 9/11 in my classroom – the front page of the newspaper from the day after and commemorative magazines that came out within weeks of the attack. My high schoolers were barely a year old when it happened. They looked through the magazines and asked me so many questions. It is amazing to me how much time has gone by, yet it all feels like it happened yesterday.

    • S.B. Roberts

      Yeah, it amazes me too. Has it really been fourteen years?

      What a great way to commemorate the occasion. I’m sure those students were impacted by reading through everything that came out in the days that followed.

      All of my students were more aware than I expected, and they wanted to pray for families who lost loved ones, but it was the 8th graders who almost made me cry when they wanted to talk about what it all looked like through my eyes. I think it might have hit home a bit since they knew I was only a little older than them when it happened.

  • Rebekah Loper

    I spent September 11 at Fort Benning this year – watching my husband’s ‘baby’ brother graduate from Army bootcamp.

    It was such a chilling moment – of all days, his graduation fell on September 11. The irony being that I was 16 when 9/11 happened. My husband was 17. The baby brother was 4. While hubby and I remember it all, the new family soldier likely remembers very little.

    He grew up in a world that was forever changed by that moment. It is, for all intents and purposes, all he ever knew. Hubby and I… we often lament the world we used to know. It’s sad. But America can certainly be stronger for it, if heads will just get screwed on straight.

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