Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11; Did Your School Take Notice?

Today is the painful anniversary of 9/11, 2001. There is a lot that could be said but I thought I would ask what did or did not happen at your school and does it matter?

To preface, my mom remembers Pearl Harbor Day like it was yesterday. We all have to try to imagine a country without TV images, no computers, nothing but words coming from a radio. It is what drove us into WWII and united a country with a common purpose. I remember when I was about 13 and my mom was telling me about rationing and women who never worked outside the home going out and working and everyone, everyone working together. Naively I said, "Why?". She just looked at me and said, "There was a war on! Everyone had a son, a husband, a father gone or dead. It's just what we did." But Pearl Harbor Day has eventually faded to a day in history.

9/11 was maybe more horrific because we were able to see it all unfold. Things that we were likely better off not seeing, we saw that day. We may have been more afraid that day than a generation before because we knew technology and what it could bring to our doors. We were told we were at "war" from that day on. Not much was expected of us as a nation - we were supposed to shop and travel and take our shoes off at the airport. No sacrifices were asked of us.

So on this day, should we remember? Maybe more importantly, should our children? My son came home from high school and said that last year they had a moment of silence but not this year. I asked if they discussed it at all and he said yes, in a couple of classes. We have a new principal, maybe he just forgot.

I certainly don't want to mourn forever but there are lessons to be learned and I would hate to think that 6 years later we're all done learning.


WenG said...

No, nothing was discussed.

As it turned out, I did the same things yesterday that I did on Sept 11, 2001: I went to the Bellevue library, then to a violin lesson.

Two close friends of mine lived in Manhattan. In those first hours, they thought an air strike was coming. They lost friends in those buildings. To this day, they won’t talk much about it.

In 2001, I wore silk scarves quite a bit. My daughters dyed them for me and enjoyed seeing me wear them. Late that morning, as I got ready to drive to the library, it occurred to me that it might be a bad idea to wear a scarf in public, that some reactionary would mistake me for a Moslem woman. That feeling has never left me.

When I got to the library, I saw a woman get out of her van wearing a habib. I remember shadowing her for a few minutes, worried that someone would say something inflammatory to her. Nobody did.

Now that my kids are old enough to discuss news and politics, we remember the failures of our leadership as much as the day itself. I've brought two things forward to our discussions in order to dispel some popular myths: the towers weren't taken down by controlled demolition, and based on the facts at hand, the attack had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, something our president still can't get straight. Out of this, we discuss the fact that people can always disagree, but facts are facts, and they are frequently manipulated. Critical Thinking 101.

For us, 9/11 is about death and misinformation and missed chances, and a president who stood on a pile that included human remains while politicking with a bullhorn.

My daughter had her first violin lesson yesterday; exactly what her older sister did in 2001.

WenG said...

To clarify, by air strike, they thought there would be bombing next, and that other cities would be attacked.