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Why Do We Need To Never Forget?

September 12, 2018

Like many you, I have a tough time with September 11. It’s the only day each year I can bear to watch the videos and look at the pictures. I wasn’t planning to write about it. It’s probably not healthy, but I intended to fly the flag, mourn, and then put the memories away for another year. I might never forget, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy remembering.

But, a funny thing happened to me on September 11 this year. I found myself meeting with a group of students and their parents who have experienced some form of trauma in their lives. For some it’s abuse, for some it’s abandonment. But, each of the kids there had to deal with some level of major trauma. And not a single one of them remembered 9/11. Many hadn’t even been born.

The therapists had us divide into small groups and answer the question, “Why is it important to never forget September 11?” Our group had 10 people. One other parent was old enough to remember that day, but she had been in the 5th grade on September 11, 2001.

“Would y’all like me to go through my experience that day?” I suggested to the group? “Sure, go ahead.”

And I then related where I was, what I was doing and most importantly what I was thinking and feeling on that September morning 17 years ago. My story, like every “9/11 Story” was unique to me. But, to the teenagers in that circle, it was the 9/11 Story.

I have a friend who becomes slightly annoyed at the “Never Forget” memes. “How could I ever forget? You don’t have to remind me. I lived through it.”

And it was during that discussion on September 11 with those injured kids that I finally understood the “Never Forget” mantra. It’s not for me, or my friend, those of us who lived through it. It’s for the next generation. It’s for the people who only have history books to teach them the events of that day. And it was a tragic day, but so was December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy. The day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. So was November 22, 1963 in Dallas, as President Kennedy was killed.

Kennedy’s death belonged to my parents generation. Pearl Harbor to my grandparents. September 11 was my generation’s tragic moment. But, for the next generation the events stream together. They are all “Before I was born — old.” And yet, the war we started after 9/11 has been raging their entire lives. They need to understand why we are fighting and why while all those events were impactful, it’s important to remember the day the World Stopped Turning.

Here are my reasons why it’s important to remember September 11, in no particular order.

1. There are people in this world that want to kill you.

We didn’t know who Osama bin Laden was. We had never heard of al Qaeda. We didn’t understand that there were entire groups that wanted nothing so much as they wanted to hurt and kill as many Americans as possible.

2. We are vulnerable.

Prior to 9/11 we had a sense of invincibility. Bad things happened other places in the world. Not here. We were safe then. We weren’t, but we thought we were. We know we aren’t now.

3. Life goes on.

The fact that we are not safe doesn’t need to paralyze us in fear. The Irish, the Israelis, and dozens of other people in the world have been threatened for decades and they go on about their lives. We learned that we could do that too. In fact, we learned that it’s really the only choice in the face of terror.

4. America is a good friend but a terrible enemy.

Osama bin Laden’s organization struck at us from half a world away. Our president vowed to track down the people responsible no matter how long it took or where they were hiding. We had an election and a new president from a different party came to power, but the relentlessness with which we hunted down those responsible didn’t waver. Eventually we found those ultimately responsible and we killed them.

5. We are more alike than we are different.

People who were alive seventeen years ago remember the tragedy of 9/11, and the amazing transformation of 9/12. We put aside our difference and came together. We came together to grieve. Many of us came together to pray. Mostly we supported one another. If the terrorists thought that the attacks of that day would break our spirit, they instead saw us unite in spirit. We were much stronger afterward than before.

But, I think that strength was always there. We argue over policies and roads, red and blue, left and right. But, like brothers and sisters who argue while growing up in the same house, when the house is threatened, we look out for one another. We are stronger together than apart.

That’s what we need to always remember and never forget.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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