Monday, September 12, 2016

Our American stories.

"Where were you?"

Each year when the anniversary rolls around, I try to incorporate some kind of 9/11 discussion into my lesson plan. And every year, I ask my students what they remember from that day. When that topic comes up this week, my students won't likely be able answer because they are too young to remember those events first-hand. Sure, they've heard about it, but they don't have that "I remember where I was" recollection of Sept. 11 and the days that followed. For many of us, 2001 seems so recent, but for current students, that was literally a lifetime ago.

That's why it's crucial for those of us who do remember to tell the stories. We have to talk about the eerie plane-less sky, the somber music the non-news channels played in lieu of frivolous reruns, the tears that flowed every time we saw another face, another name. 

We have to let our children know about those dark September days because that's when we showed the world--and ourselves--who we are. We mourned the dead and comforted the grieving families, yes. But we also went back to work. We boarded those planes. We returned to the crowded football stadiums and state fairs. We refused to cower. We were strong. We were determined. And amid the turmoil, we found ways to be kind to one another.

In our current red vs. blue world, American values are segregated into left and right. Tragedies send us to our corners instead of toward each other. Now more than ever, we have to tell our 9/11 stories. We have to show our kids--and remind ourselves--how powerful we can be when we're the UNITED States of America.