“On this day that is remembered for hate, let kindness be its antidote”
September 11, 2001 is a date that most of us will never forget. Even if you didn’t experience the devastating loss of a loved one in the destruction of the Twin Towers of NYC, the crash of United Flight 93, or the explosion at the Pentagon we all experienced a loss. Our lives stopped in a way that hasn’t happened collectively in decades.
For me, I had just dropped my then 3-year-old off at preschool. The first plane had hit one of the towers in NYC, as I dropped her to the classroom her teacher mentioned something (a plane, helicopter) had hit the Pentagon. It stopped me in my tracks, and I remember thinking “What is going on? Is this war on American soil?”
I rushed home that day and turned on the television, glued to it for the entire day. It was all I could think about. I thought of the families of the loved ones lost. I thought of the responders who risked their lives to try and save others. To this day I stop what I’m doing on September 11th and try to remember those lost and to think about how life has changed for us since that day.
I want our children to remember this day and never forget what happened, all four of them (aged 28 to 16). What can we do to make sure they will always remember? Some are too young to remember it. As parents it will be up to us to make sure that they know about the events of this date. I’m sure, in time, our history books will reflect it as well.
This past summer we took a vacation with our youngest to Washington D.C and New York City. We made it a point to take her to the memorials for 9/11 in both places. Both memorials are beautiful in architectural design and concept, yet so different in the ways that visitors engaged with these memorials.
In New York I was disappointed and sad to see the general happiness on people’s faces as they took photos and hung out. I saw people sitting on the memorial, their butts covering names of victims that were lost. Selfies, too many to count, taken with wide smiles as if about to embark on a ride at Disneyland, were the most common expression of remembrance. It wasn’t quiet, nor respectful. People were chatting, running, laughing as if they were frolicking in a park. A $25 dollar admission price to get into the museum was the final straw. We left, sad, trying to express to our daughter what people were feeling on September 11th where the Twin Towers once stood.
The Pentagon memorial in Washington D.C was the polar opposite of the Twin Towers memorial. Silent visitors strolled quietly among the trees and flowers. Many sat on benches just to be present and to remember the lives lost in that space. Nobody sat on the many simple sculptured wings with the names of the victims.
So how do we keep a spirit of tribute and remembrance alive? How do we pass it to our children?