Article by Joseph Langely
Video by Colby Jobinger
“To sum it all up, it’s confusing. It’s super complex.” History teacher Bob Kelly said, “It’s unsettling as a teacher to say, that- to say, okay here, be confused.”
The issues that this day brings up, the issues this day deals with, are huge. Why did this happen? What does it mean for the country? What does it mean to the future? Just, in general, why?
Nearly everyone who was older than 4 when 9/11 happened remembers where they were, and what they were doing. Nearly everybody has a story. For some, that story is running through a burning building, full of panic. For others, it’s sitting in a dimly lit classroom, watching an old T.V that was wheeled out on a stand, full of, well… panic. History teacher, Ben Regonini, remembers the clothing he was wearing, down to the color of his shoes. “I was nine years old… I remember I was sitting there, in a navy blue shirt, with tan cargo shorts, and white shoes. I remember exactly what I was wearing.” These memories, for people across the country, were burned into their minds.
That day was eighteen years ago. Eighteen years, and everyone still knows what happened. Eighteen years, and it’s still topical. Eighteen years, and America still has troops deployed in the Middle East. Eighteen years, and families still mourn for their loved ones who didn’t make it.
Needless to say, the event that took place on that horrible day fundamentally changed America. Many of the teachers talked about how much more patriotic the country was, after the fact. English teacher, Michael Land, noted that even in the bay area, where Bush wasn’t a well-respected president, American flags were on almost every porch, and around every corner. Regardless of situation, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion; regardless of politics, people mourned as one.
Those of us in high school right now are the first generation that doesn’t remember that period of mourning. We don’t remember the fear of our democracy being dismantled. Principal Daniel Ching spoke to this point, “People need to remember- freedom, equality, those things are really important, but they don’t come easy.” On 9/11, this statement was proven. Even though those memories are getting further away with each generation, this cannot be forgotten.
As Bob Kelly said, 9/11 is complex. It raises questions, and that’s the most important takeaway. It isn’t the job of people who were there, or who remember it, to tell the new generation what to think. It’s up to us to think. Be confused. Consider. Come to conclusions. The generation that was alive, and remembers this tragedy, can tell us what happened. They can guide us. They can help us realize the gravity of what happened. They can give us warnings, and tell us what was felt, and what could be felt in the future. Most importantly, they can tell us that we should think.
And that’s exactly what we need to do. As the instructor of physical education, Jay Smoljian, said, “9/11 showed us that we are vulnerable to be attacked.” As much as everyone desperately wishes that nothing to this magnitude ever happens again, there is no guarantee that it won’t.
If we can be thoughtful, however, and try our best to feel for people, we can minimize that risk. Use empathy. Think about the situations of other people. Think about why certain viewpoints are held. Think about the past.
Think about the possibilities of the future.
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