Today is September 11th, 2012.
For the past eleven years, September 11th has been a day of solemn reflection and temporary patriotism across the country.
A 9/11 tribute from my freshman year of college
This year, I have been able to look at September 11th through new eyes. I am student teaching tenth graders, and, for most of them, September 11th is just another patriotic day on the calendar. They were 4 or 5 years old when the terrorist attacks occurred, and if they remember anything at all, they just remember the images that are bombarded across television sets year after year. Of the students who have actually memories of that date, most of the students just recall their parents or guardians being upset, or a lot of people leaving school early.
For me, the day has a completely different meaning. I was thinking about the significance of 9/11 in my life earlier this morning, and I realized that I am 22 years old. 9/11 happened 11 years ago. This means that for half of my life, I have been living in a post- 9/11 world.
A lot of my students have no personal recollections or memories of 9/11. Today, I ended up explaining to them how different the world was 11 years ago. Their minds were blown when I told them there was a time when there was hardly any security at airports, that you were allowed to bring liquids on planes, and that there were very few restrictions on packages you sent in the mail. To them, they have only known a life filled with extra security and safety precautions. Terror alerts are as normal to them as thunderstorm alerts, and terrorist is a casually used word in their media-filled lives. They only know what the Twin Towers look like as a result of “really old movies” (their words, not mine!), and the 9/11 memorial is just a construction project that has been going on for a really long time. September 11th is just another day to wear red, white, and blue, but they don’t get off from school for it. They know that it is socially acceptable to feign sadness, remorse, and a lack of understanding of the events that surround this day, but they do not remember the actual emotions that this day brings out in some people.
For me, I am blessed. I didn’t lose any loved ones on 9/11, although my aunt was in the last subway car that went to the World Trade Center. She and my uncle both survived working in the city that day, and for that I will always be grateful.
A few months ago, for my Teachers as Writers course, I dug up an old journal I had started on September 11th, 2001. I was convinced that the world was going to end, that Osama bin Laden was going to kill me and my family, and that life as I knew it was going to end. After reading through my neglected journal, I wanted to give my eleven year old self a hug and tell her it’s going to be okay. I was so filled with fear of the unknown, like many Americans at the time. In a weird sort of way, being able to revisit my thought process as a child allowed me to realize how much has changed and how much has remained the same in our crazy world.
I haven’t looked at Facebook yet today, but I can almost guarantee that when I do, I will see a lot of “Never forget” statuses. I can also almost guarantee that there will be moments of twisted 9/11 jokes, political ideologies, anger, hatred, and temporary patriotism. I respect that everyone has the right to their memories, emotions, and opinions, but I also hope that all of you will remember that some people are also still suffering various levels of grief and emotions 11 years later. Some people were personally affected by September 11th, 2001, and others were not. I hope with all my heart that everyone who reads this blog will think before joining the bandwagon, and that you all will be respectful of the lives that were lost eleven years ago.
I leave you with the song “Where Is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas. We used it to discuss life post 9/11 in my classroom today.
It just ain’t the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace are so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong