Never Forget

“Live every day as if it was September 12th” – unknown source


Used with the Creative Commons License-

We are taught the term “Never Forget” in association with the terrorist attacks of that day. However, today’s school-age generation wasn’t alive when the attacks took place.

Every year students throughout the United States are routinely taught about the events that unfolded on September 11th, 2001. We often hear and see the phrase “Never Forget” in association with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

However, it’s a phrase that doesn’t resonate with most members of my generation because we were not alive when the attacks took place.

We listen as people tell us their accounts of 9/11 and what it means to them, but most of us cannot fully grasp how they felt because we weren’t there to witness it ourselves.

People used to tear up at the mention of 9/11, but most of us don’t truly understand why they are crying.

We are told that September 11 started as just another sunny Tuesday morning as Americans went about their daily routines not knowing how much their lives would change.

Students went to school not knowing that what they would learn wouldn’t be coming from their textbooks. First responders went to work not knowing they could never return home to their families. Workers went to their jobs not knowing they may never have another workday.

We learn the fear that citizens faced as they realized that the first plane crash was no accident. We learn how people cried and called their families in distress as our country was under attack. We learn about how the country came to a halt as many businesses and schools were put on lockdown – but we weren’t there.

Perhaps we don’t bat an eye because violence has become so common in the society we now live in. School shootings are no longer uncommon as violence spreads all around us.

Perhaps what we learn in school is causing children to have a different perception of the violence that occurred on 9/11.

We are taught the events that occurred on 9/11 but teachers and adults leave out the gruesome details. Leaving these details out may have caused younger generations to not see the big picture of how tragic 9/11 truly was.

While learning about the September 11th attacks I often read reflections on the impact it had on our country and how the world came together in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

I didn’t truly begin to understand until I began volunteering with Friends of Flight 93 of the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

One phrase I was introduced to by the park rangers was “Live every day as if it was September 12th.”

At first, I didn’t understand what that meant, because obviously September 12, 2001 was a sad and frightening day as Americans began to grapple with the reality of what had happened the day before.

But September 12th, 2001 was also a day when Americans truly came together and were united as one nation.

People stopped in the streets and prayed with strangers. Memorials were set up as people recognized the victims who were killed and the first responders who ran into the burning buildings.

My mom was a college student during the 9/11 attacks and tells me that in the days that followed she truly understood what it meant to be an American. No one thought of their own problems as they worked alongside each other and showed that America was still a strong country even in times of healing.

The world was quiet as schools were closed, few people went to work, all planes were grounded, and subways and trains rarely left their stations. People flooded the street and worked alongside first responders in any way they could. Relief programs were made as an abundance of people donated blood to the Red Cross.

The national anthem would play and everything would go quiet. No one dared to speak. Instead, they showed their pride in their country in every way possible. The raising of the American flag was a powerful symbol of hope, strength, and resilience during difficult times.

At one of the most terrifying moments in our nation’s history, we still showed we were one country and nothing will ever change that.