The Values of 9/11

Where were you on 9/11? That morning, I was running a little late getting to work at as a graduate student. So I called my professor; I knew he said something about a plane crashing, but because I used an analog phone and lived in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t hear him well and said I’d have to talk to him later. Only a few minutes later, when I reached his office, he told me what had happened. I couldn’t believe it.

Like many other people day, I stood in shock as I listened and watched the details unfold. Should I drive home? What does it all mean? Should I take my child out of school? Are we safe?

We largely united as a nation shortly after 9/11, but it did not seem to take long before we forgot. I’m not saying we need to watch the events on video over and over again, but in just 14 years we seem to have forgotten the values forged from that experience. Politics were put aside, and unity made us feel we could accomplish anything. Regardless of our beliefs about the wrong or right of the decisions following it, our political and ideological differences divide us so much now there is no wonder why more and more Americans are pessimistic about their future. When the unity breaks down, so does the faith that things can work out for the better.

Each year I teach in college I notice a significant decrease in the number of students who have any memories about 9/11. Or worse, they only know about 9/11 because it was taught to them in class and have to remember things about it because they’ll be tested on it. But for most of us, it wasn’t history; it was reality.

As a parent or leader of children, you can still talk about 9/11 without scaring them. You can explain that it was a serious and difficult time in our country, and for individuals and families, but focus more of your time and attention on talking about the acts of heroism of common people.

As children get older, they become increasingly pessimistic or passive toward their future. But if we show them a thousand acts of kindness and bravery in our world, perhaps they will have something to aspire to.

What do you think? What lessons did you learn from 9/11? (Please keep it civil and avoid ideological debates that spur contention).

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