As my dentist walked into the examining room last Friday, he commented “I was just talking about you the other day.” Of course, I commented “why”. He told me that he has a foreign exchange student living with him and the student’s assignment was to write about what he remembers about September 11, 2001. There were two problems with that assignment this particular student is from China and this is a class of high school sophomores. This young man is a little older than his classmates but he is still only 17 so he was 5 in 2001. We chatted back and forth about how young these students were when September 11, 2001 happened and that they shouldn’t really have memories of that day. I asked “what did the young man write about.” My dentist asked the student what he knew and he remembered learning that something had happened in America but no real details. My dentist told the student that he had patients who were directly affected, shared my story and also told his personal memories of that day.
We also chatted about the idea that people say they will never forget but that they probably will. I mentioned that I had commented to my daughters at one point that when you hear on the radio that it is Pearl Harbor Day that still really means something to someone because they loss a father, grandparent, great-uncle. My dentist went on to tell me that when he was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, VA. An urgent call had come through for all the ships to immediately lower their flags to half-staff because it was December 7. Wow, even the Navy forgot. 🙁
And so 12 years from September 11, 2001 you have people who have real personal “I remember…” memories but you also have a generation who wasn’t old enough to have memories or weren’t even born. And very soon “I remember on September 11…” will sound to kids/teens the same way “I remember on December 7…” sounded to me. Even though it seems like ancient history to young people, we have to share those stories so those stories can be retold to future generations.
September 11 was named National Day of Service and Remembrance by the US Congress in 2009. Their website has some suggestions for service and has teaching tools. www.serve.gov/?q=site-page/toolkits The Tribute Center also has teaching tools. www.tributewtc.org
As September 11, 2013 approaches, my hope is you will tell the next generation your September 11 story. My prayer is that the next generation will not have their own December 7 or September 11.