A Brief Note on September 11 and the Concept of “Never Forget”

9-11 Never Forget Pentagon

Many people have made an effort to remind each other on this September 11th that we as a country–and indeed the entire world–will “Never Forget” the horrors of that awful day in 2001. I appreciate these gestures, but it’s important to remember that students in grades K-12 today are young enough that they have nothing to actually remember. Your lived experiences and memories of 9/11 are a younger generation’s history; a history that they will learn through school textbooks, YouTube videos, and your memories.

How we choose to tell this history to ourselves and our posterity will be discussed, debated, and reinterpreted for many years to come, but it will have to involve more than personal reflections on “where I was when I heard about 9/11” or hashtag remembrances on social media. It will require more than symbolic flag waving and uncritical praise of our country’s legacy while shouting “‘Murcia!”. Indeed, the flag’s meaning is not derived from its material or design but from the ideals it symbolizes and embodies – ideals that have been contested, abused, and stained by the blood of those who died for its preservation.

This history will need to probe difficult questions about the causes, context, and consequences of 9/11, and it will have to challenge us to think about patriotism, the military, popular government, and a range of other issues that push us to ultimately consider what it means to be an American today.

We will need to have these discussions because they will play a crucial role in shaping how we want this country to look like going forward and, hopefully, help us leave our society in a better condition for our posterity. These discussions will hurt, and we will need to reckon with the pain they provoke. I am not completely sure whether we’ll be up for this important task. But I will hope for a better future because this country–like my own family–is something that I was born into, for better or worse. And just like my family, my country and I will have our disagreements and uncertainties at times. The U.S.A. is something I love, however, and something that will endure if we as a society give it the care it deserves.

Advertisements

3 responses

  1. […] today musing on the fact that our K-12 students today have nothing to remember about the event and will have to experience it only as history, and through our own memories. (Today I asked my college classes if any of them have any discernible memories of the event since […]

  2. I covered some of this on my blog as well. http://amoregeneraldiffusionofknowledge.blogspot.com/2015/09/history-according-to-jim-vol-1-no-17.html

    History is more than just the textbooks. Students who have a personal connection to the past are more apt to be interested in history than others. The slogan, “Never Forget” is not worth the time it says to utter the words if people do not take an active interest in maintaining the history. In my opinion a lot of that begins at home.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for sharing your post, Jimmy. I enjoyed it and agree that a lot these discussions need to start at home.

What do you think? Leave a comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: