Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 - Never Forget Already Forgotten?

As today is the 8th memorial of the tragedy that struck the U.S., I felt like it was important to post an anecdotal conversation had last week at a high school football game which unfortunately may be an editorial of today's comfortable society.

As my son and I were watching the Central High School Chargers get pounded by a team from Carrollton, TX (21-41 loss), a friend sitting next to my son struck up a conversation about 9/11 in which they engaged me with a question. The friend asked, "Wasn't 9/11 like back in JFK's day?" My mouth dropped as both these fine young men were roughly 5 yrs old at the time of the attack. JFK, seriously? I wasn't even born before JFK died. I responded that it was during the first term of George W. Bush to which their eyes glazed over a bit as if to say, "George who?"

My initial reaction was to feel critical towards the public school system for not educating and memorializing the attacks against the US on that fatal fall morning of 2001. Should they be teaching history and recent history as it has had a great impact on our sociality and economy? Then I realized, had I forgotten the events myself and overlooked my patriotic duty to teach my own child?

While the mantra in the wake of the attacks was that we would "we will never forget", I have the sneaky suspicion that many have forgotten 9/11 to some extent. We don't talk about it as much. The economy, while still a bit shaky, has largely rebounded and we continue to press on. Many people recognize the after effects of the attacks and passively swear support of our troops overseas fighting in distant lands but do they realize the genesis of the fight against terrorism? War, as it comes from the US, feels mostly common place and often not directly associated to the original attack against the US. In the numbing ambivalence of our reality, forgetting 9/11, which we pledged never to do, has become too easy.

So on this day, I'm taking a moment to think about my own experience on that hallowed day and the impact it has had on my life. What I recall is watching the live broadcast post first initial attack on the World Trade Center's North Tower and was shocked and horrified as the second plane struck the South Tower. I recall watching the innocent victims jump from the towers and scream from the windows prior to the collapse. My mind was numb contemplating how this could happen in such a seemingly peaceful and protected land and what the event would mean for my family. As the event unfolded and I witnessed the deaths of nearly 3000 people in locations from NY, PA and DC, my heart ached for the dying, the families of the victims and the land I love. I recall listening to President Bush from his Oval Office denounce the attacks and bolster up a depressed and shocked nation. Yet during the address I felt cheated by the nation I pledge allegiance to and wondered whether I had given enough. I wondered what my children would sacrifice for their country (and still do) in defense of our freedom and the protection of our land, liberty and religion.

While my son may have just been 5 years old at the time, and surely he has vague, even dream-like recollections of watch the events that day, I feel personally responsible to him for allowing him to be blind to the consequences of 9/11. Will I ever forget? Shame on me if I do. I can at least say that on this day I do remember and as such I'll continue to do what I can to support my country, come what may.

What memories do you have on 9/11? Where were you when the attacks happened?

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