The anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks was a few days ago. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years since the plans flew into the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Penn (which was the plane that they believe was destined to hit either the Capitol or the White House). So obviously, at around this time each year, everyone remembers the attacks and those lives that were lost, and how the U.S. came together after 9-11. As for my group of friends, most of us were in our later years of high school or early years of college when the attacks occurred.
I remember hearing about the attacks in my 11th grade Algebra III/Trig class (I also remember that the teacher still made us do math even though the country had just been attacked). Then later that morning, my math class (all 10-11 of us- that’s how you know you go to a little tiny school) went to the Spanish classroom and saw the tower fall on TV. Our school’s Spanish teacher had rigged an coat hanger to her TV so that she could watch soap operas keep up with the outside world during her planning period
On Friday night, I went out to eat at Olive Garden with Jenn, one of my best friends from college. We met during my sophomore year when we were working as tutors/assistants at the Math Lab at FMU. Unlike me, who obviously fell from the path of math, Jenn is a math teacher at a local high school. Since Friday was the anniversary of 9-11, she decided to have a lesson called “9-11: Behind the Numbers”, discussing the mathematics behind the attacks (i.e., how many people died, what percentage of those killed were firefighters/police/EMS and what percentage were civilians, what percentage were from other countries, etc). She told me that some of them really didn’t understand about 9-11 or take the numbers seriously.
And of course, it hit us both. The kids who are in Jenn’s math class (9-10 graders), were between six and eight years old when the terrorist attacks occured. They don’t even remember it, and even if they do, they obviously didn’t understand the depth of what happened. Besides, kids have enough nightmares about the monsters in the closet and the zombies under the bed- so why would parents let them watch news coverage of terrorist attacks and be faced with more sleepless nights?
So for a moment there, over our endless pasta bowls of whole wheat linguini and five cheese marinara and fettuchine alfredo- we suddenly felt slightly… old. I’m sure everyone who’s older than us has had these moments too- when they realized that so many people who they deal with on a daily basis don’t remember such huge milestones, such as D-Day, JFK’s assassination, the Challenger Space Shuttle, among other historical events.
Back in high school, our Student Council (yes, my school was big enough to have one of those) sold buttons that said “9-11: Never Forget”, where the proceeds went to some charity. I think the buttons were $2 and and I (along with everyone else at the school) bought a few of them. I still have mine, and I had it up in my apartment in college when I had a roommate (err, apartment mate?) tell me “I really don’t see how anyone could forget 9-11- why would they put that on a button?”
And sure, we won’t forget what happened, but let us also not forget to remember and talk about it (at least) each year. Just like how my parents recall JFK’s assassination from their youth, the events of 9-11-2001 may have been current events for us 20somethings, but it’s history for today’s youth. And it’s up to us to pass that history on.