To our readers and fellow Americans,
On this day, 17 years ago, terrorists attacked our country. They killed thousands of our fellow countrymen and permanently changed the lives of millions more.
Like many of you, where I was and what I was doing when I found out is permanently etched into my memory. Our nation, united in a way we haven’t seen since, vowed to never forget the events of that fateful September day.
But many Americans today don’t remember. Not like you or I remember it, anyway. For my 4-year-old daughter, or some of the soldiers deploying to Afghanistan today who weren’t yet old enough to walk at the time of the attacks, it’s likely seen in the same way that I viewed the attacks on Pearl Harbor growing up: an important historical event that shaped our country.
But that sentiment lacks the emotional connection to 9/11 that those of us who witnessed it in person or watched it live on television have. So the burden is on us to not only “never forget,” but to ensure that the next generation understands in addition to simply remembering that it happened.
It’s up to us to convey our emotional connection to 9/11 with them.
You can start by telling your young children what it was like to be afraid or sad or angry that day — they understand those emotions. Tell your older children about what it was like to find out about the attacks while you were at school or at work. Tell them about the firefighters who ran toward the smoke and falling debris, not away from it. Tell them that it’s their burden as Americans to live up to that standard if ever presented with adversity — we all owe them that much.
Tell the young soldiers under your charge about the heroes who fought back on Flight 93 or the servicemembers who pulled their friends out of the Pentagon’s smoldering rubble. Tell the interns at your company about the people who went to work that day only to find themselves choosing between an inferno or leaping to their death a short time later. Even the worst day at work for any of us pales in comparison to what those who suffered that day went through.
And if you are a teacher, read a story about someone who lost their life or watch the recordings of the news footage with your class. Sitting at their school desk, much like many of us did, and seeing the events unfold can be a powerful teaching tool.
It’s a day that defined a generation; the actions of those evil men (and our response to them) are still being felt today. If we are truly committed to never forgetting, we’ll ensure that those images never fade — not from our memory, and not for those who weren’t around to have the memory.
It’s the least we can do.
Marty Skovlund, Jr.
Executive Editor, Coffee, or Die Magazine