Ten Years Ago, But Ever Present

11 Sep

There was a moment of silence on Friday morning at the middle school where I teach in remembrance of 9/11. As I talked with my students Friday afternoon about what they had thought about or felt during that moment of silence, I felt an inexplicable need to express the magnitude of 9/11 on our daily lives. While my students understood that the events that unfolded on that day were tragic and terrible, most of them were only one year old when it happened. To most of them, 9/11 is little more than a story told to them by their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and other adults who remember the day as though it were yesterday. I suppose to them, it is like how I feel when my father recalls the day J.F.K. was shot. Obviously awful. Obviously unsettling. But there is little personal connection or emotion associated with the events of that day.

My students don’t remember that life was different before the towers fell. There were no such thing as lockdown drills in school. You could walk all the way down to the gates at the airport to see your loved ones off. Hell, you could even bring a full-size bottle of shampoo on the plane. And there was never any doubt, even for a second, that America was untouchable. Invincible. Safe.

To the vast majority of my students, September 11, 2001 is just a date in their history books. But there is little question that their childhood is markedly different than my own was, because of what happened on that day. It may have been ten years ago that it happened, but the effects of 9/11 on our lives are ever present.

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