Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

As I sit in front of the TV watching the ceremonies in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, I am taken back to the exact moment it happened ten years ago. I had just come into work at my on campus job as a college student and a co-worker said, “dude, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.” We proceeded to head down to the basement where the one cable TV was hooked up. It was there we saw the second plane crash into the second tower and where we stayed for the remainder of the day. We didn’t move from that place the entire day and stayed glued to the television.

I also remember a few days later when I attended a home football game down in our stadium. To this day I don’t recall if we won or lost, or even who we were playing. What I do remember was being overcome with emotion while the national anthem played and every person in that stadium singing along. It was another one of those moments that will live in my memory for ever.

As I reflect on the moments and the moments being replayed on the TV this morning, I am left with a great number of questions that I don’t think I can answer.

Are we still as unified as a country as we were in the moments following that tragedy? If you watched the presidential address the other night, I would say no. “Grown up” men and women acted like children as the president spoke. Adults sat in defiance as comments were made with aims of improving the lives of Americans. We are so unified that our own government can’t work together to help the people they serve.

How do we teach about this day to students who were either not born or too young to remember? What do you say to a kid that asks why it happened? What do you show them and what do you not show them? I struggle with this even with my own children at home who just asked me, “why did someone fly a plane into a building?” I don’t have an answer for that.

Do we still remember? After this tragedy unfolded, there was a rush on bumper stickers with American Flags and various messages of remembrance hung in cars, houses, and places of work. Some people even change their Facebook profile pictures to some patriotic image and wore ribbons on the anniversaries. Ten years later the bumper stickers are faded or falling off and we have moved on…do we still remember?
What good has come since the attacks? According to a reporter, we have sent 2 million American troops overseas since the 9-11 attacks. Have we accomplished anything? Bin Laden is dead. Sadam is dead. Is the world safer or have more rallied to the anti-American cause?

Do we treat people better as a result of 9-11? I still remember right after the attacks when the news started reporting about violence being down to Muslims throughout our country. One I remember clearly was attacks at Michigan University against Muslim students. It sickened me to see Americans attacking other Americans out of fear and ignorance. Have we gotten any better? Do we still have empathy and sympathy for other cultures and races? Is racism still prevalent and just waiting for an event like 9-11 to rear its ugly head? As a teacher, I will continue to teach empathy and tolerance for all so that my students will always value people no matter where they come from or what they look like.

Most Americans, and I will put myself in this category, have moved on with their lives and only “remember” this day once a year when it is thrown back in our faces. Is it important to relive it over and over? Should we move on and while trying to remember? How do we do that in an authentic way rather than the media frenzies that are being aired on TV? If we must remember let us remember all the heroes that saved lives. Let us remember people of all races and backgrounds giving selflessly to bring people out of those burning buildings.

I will end with a cliché statement because I truly don’t know how to bring my thoughts to a close…I offer my condolences and prayers to all who lost family members and loved ones on that day ten years ago.


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