On September 11, 2001, two planes flown by premeditated terrorist murderers crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Another hijacked plane plunged into the Pentagon; while yet another aimed at the White House was taken down by courageous passengers who overtook the terrorists on that flight. Almost 3000 innocent people were murdered that day and another 6000 were injured. It was a tragic day that truly tested the resolve of our nation and all her inhabitants.
It Angers Me
When I hear middle and high schoolers speaking nonchalantly about the horrific events of 9/11, I feel something twist in my abdomen and push against my chest. I feel my jaws clench and my teeth grind. I get angry. I think to myself: these little foolish, ungrateful twits!
How dare they speak so cavalierly about the lost lives of so many, the cruel act of terrorism, and the complete and utter devastation our country experienced on that day in 2001.
How dare they not stay quiet in reverence and awe during the Moment of Silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives and lost loved ones. And how dare they complain that the moment – not even a full minute – is too long.
And then there are the jokes and snide comments. How does one joke about such a dreadful event? Believe me, immature teens and preteens can find a way. And it infuriates me! The only thing that keeps me calm and willing to teach them the error of their ways is the fact that they are just silly kids who really don’t know any better. Their brains are not even fully developed yet. They need us to help them see the gravity of that cataclysmic day.
How dare they mindlessly guffaw or lazily slouch across their desks, unwilling to stand for the flag – the very flag we proudly staked at the rubble of the twin towers. The flag that we waved as a symbol to say we will not bow down to terrorism: we are not defeated. Do you think anyone would consider kneeling during the singing of the Anthem or the Pledge during a tribute to the brave men and women of 9/11? What about while standing on the sight of the once steady twin towers – the site of our country’s great pain?
I would hope not. Yet, it’s up to us to share the stories of 9/11 with solemn perspective and true details. They need to know the real extent to which we were attacked and how quickly and horrifically thousands of innocent people were killed. This is not something to be taken lightly.
It Saddens Me
It hurts my heart when I hear kids and teens making obtuse comments about the tragedy of 9/11. Their lack of compassion for the loss, and their lack of understanding of the extent of that loss is difficult to watch. Even after explaining the deep pain and devastation felt by so many, especially those who lost loved ones, too many kids still remain disconnected from the reality of that event.
Simplistic comments about what someone should have done. The “If I was there, I would’ve just …” comments show their utter inability to appreciate the magnitude of horror experienced on that day. A little empathy would go a long way, but these young people are sorely lacking in that quality.
Yet, how is it they don’t know and feel the weight of those horrifying terrorist attacks? It’s been 18 years since it happened … meaning they weren’t there. They didn’t experience it. The only way they will adopt the perspective needed and the solemn approach desired is if we pass it on to them. Not just once or twice, but often.
So, despite my feelings of anger and sadness, I have to realize these teens and preteens can only comprehend the gravity of September 11, 2001 if we give them the information, and then help them to process it. Their innate immaturities require adults to take their hands and walk them through the events, feelings, and realities of those heinous attacks. Their young sense of immortality makes it challenging for them to grasp the tremendous losses, both physical and psychological. We must help them.
Even if we can’t get our young people to connect with the solemnity of 9/11, we can still require them to be respectful in their speaking about it. We hold the memories and therefore, we hold the torch. We must pass it on if there is any hope of maintaining a sober awareness and respect for that terrible day.