Friday, September 11, 2015

Not Forgetting.

I was ten years old on September 11, 2001. After a confusing morning of students being pulled out of school one by one by their parents, we went home early. The bus driver told us that a plane had crashed into a building, and I felt my little child heart relieved. See it's just a misunderstanding, I remember thinking. That's nothing to be worried about.

Sometime later in the day, of course, I realized I was wrong. I remember my mom encouraging me to go on a walk around the neighborhood with my friend Sarah. It was safe, after all, since all flights had been stopped. I remember looking up at the sky, thinking that if I saw a plane up there, that would be bad, bad news.

I remember the long wait for my dad to come home from work, and my incredulity that he hadn't left early. We ate a tense dinner. In my memory, we're all sitting up straighter than normal.

What a day. The events of a morning wrapped millions of people in a shared sense of fear. The pit of every stomach was filled with that awful knowledge that something horrible had happened that we were powerless to fix. A living hell.

I hate September 11 every year now. I hate the empty rhetoric of "Never Forget." I was ten then, but I'm twenty-four now. No one old enough to remember that hell will forget it. It's just a fact.

So what is it that we aren't forgetting? No one says exactly. I think they mean that we're not supposed to forget that people lost their lives. We're not supposed to forget the heroes. We're not supposed to forget how we banded together.

But what I hear is We won't forget what you did. We'll never forgive you. We won't forget that you spat on America--that America endured something it doesn't deserve. I hear vengeful message.

There are so many countries where people endure things they don't deserve every day. Right now there's a Syrian refugee crisis. And lots of countries are opening their arms to them and right now we're not one of them.

After September 11, several European countries held National Days of Mourning. Tens of thousands of people brought cards and funeral wreaths to the US Embassy in China. The president of South Africa halted all broadcasts for the rest of the day. A village in Kenya gave 14 cows to help out America.

I didn't know any of that until I read it on Wikipedia just now. All I know is how hurt we are, how we continue to insist that we're hurt year after year. I'm not saying we weren't hurt. That hell was real for all of us. I can't imagine how bad some people had it. All I know is that if the tables are turned, and it was another country that got what we got, we wouldn't have stopped the TV for it.

Isn't the point of "never forget" to keep history from repeating itself? I just don't think "never forgetting" is going to keep people from terrorizing us in the future unless we look around at all the people with open arms to support us and start acting like we know they're there.


  1. This is amazing, Rachel. I love your insight!

  2. This just gave me chills. Prophetic indeed.