Ten years ago, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I offered a remembrance of sorts about the magnitude of the day coupled with a cautionary reflection about our national tendency to forget events of such magnitude. To make my point, I recalled events from a different September morning, in 1862, when American suffered an even more catastrophic loss of life. You can read my original post here.
It has since become my tradition to revisit that post as my way of commemorating the day. It serves as an important reminder to us that when we vow “Never forget,” such a vow carries with it an obligation to do our part to make sure we don’t. Yet how many people do you know who think history is boring or that it doesn’t matter or that it doesn’t connect with our daily lives? For many of us, 9/11 was lived experience, not history, which gives it an intimacy that even twenty years can’t diminish; for most of my students, though, not born yet when 9/11 happened, the events of that September are as removed from their daily lives as the events of September 1862.
Do the seeds of forgetting lay in that lack of immediacy? At what point does the forgetting begin? And despite all our vows to the contrary, is there anything we can do to stop it?
For Further Reading:
In 2019, I reflected on the 9/11 attacks in the context of some experiences I had over the summer at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Oklahoma City, and the site of the final Confederate surrender of the Civil War. You can read that reflection, “Acts of Violence Against America,” here.
Earlier this year, I paid a visit to Flight 93 National Park. Here’s the video from the ECW YouTube page: