Ask any adult today, say anyone aged 20 or older, give or take a few years, and they will be able to tell you where they were on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Quite like how most of our parents will tell you where they were when they found out Kennedy was assassinated. We remember where we were, what we heard, what we saw on television. We heard the patriotic music and felt the swells of pride when we saw the Stars and Stripes waving in the wind. Younger children and teens felt slightly more grown up if Mom and Dad let them listen to Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” unedited, and we cried when we heard “God Bless the USA”. As a nation, we swore we would never forget the site of those burning towers, the shock of the Pentagon, or the burnt debris field in Pennsylvania.
For the last 13 years, wherever I have gone to school or worked, if I was there at 08:46, everyone dropped what they were doing for, if nothing else, a moment of silence for the victims of that terrible day. (The first plane hit Tower 1 at that time.) This morning, I said something about how I was surprised that the school was not having a second moment of silence at that time inremembrance in addition to the regular silent moment we have every day when school starts at 8:00. Another staff member told me, “What does it matter? These kids weren’t even born yet or were, at most, a year old. It ain’t our job to teach them.”
Granted, we have administrative positions, but I beg to differ. We adults in the building were certainly all alive, and living in the northeast corridor, our small city lost natives on the planes and in the towers. No one who signed the Declaration of Independence is alive today, but we all celebrate it each year. Ditto Memorial Day, established officially in the 1860s after Lincoln’s assassination. Ditto Veteran’s Day, and I’m pretty sure there are no surviving Veteran’s of WWI (The day is celebrated on the day the war ended) – we get a whole day off from school for that.
“What does it matter?”
It matters because we are still fighting against the evil that, within a matter of hours, killed 3,000 Americans in the most cowardly way. Make no mistake. These people are evil. And they will get their comeuppance one way or another. For the children who weren’t born yet, or are too young to remember, we need to remember for them, so that they too may honor the victim’s memories, and honor the soldiers who have died to keep us safe, and those who continue to serve, sacrificing everything to that people who thing “what does it matter” can sleep soundly tonight.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. -A. Lincoln, November, 1863