SPARK #7: Against Forgetting

This retro flower tree,  by Sascalia makes me think of fall. (And I love fall with all my heart.)

Not long ago, I stood before a classroom of writing students and asked them to share their memories of September 11th. I wasn’t prepared for what came next …

What I anticipated was a recounting of terror-filled moments and media anecdotes. I could almost hear the rumbling of voices talking over voices–“Pick me! I have something to share!”

This was a classroom of talkers, after all, who could make the contents of a phone book sound exciting.

But what I received in response to my question was a room full of glassy-eyed, blank expressions. I could have asked them to translate the Estonian phrase, “Made sa vaatad” and I would have witnessed the same reaction.

I learned quickly that these students knew nothing of 9/11 except what they had read in textbooks or discovered on YouTube.

It doesn’t take long, I learned, for generations to be separated by major life events. Today’s 15-year-olds know little–if anything–of that horrific day. No doubt they look at 9/11 the way I view Vietnam or the fall of the Iron Curtain. I can respect it in the way I know it was important–the way I know freedom is important or forgiveness.

But it’s all conceptual.

And since that day in that classroom, I have grappled with ways that I can share history with those who come after me. Maybe my account will be imperfect. Maybe the details I share will not be relevant to the world at large. But they will be details that make the events more real to those I love.

9/11, after all, is a day that shouldn’t be forgotten.

SPARK #7: What do you remember about 9/11? 100 to 200 words.

Here is what I remember.


  1. I can't imagine forgetting that day…but it makes sense that teenagers don't remember when you think how young they were on that day. I often think of my mom's "I remember exactly what I was doing the day JFK was shot" stories when my friends and I discuss 9/11/01.

    I personally believe I will always remember my then fiance coming to my door to pick me up for our first premarital meeting with our pastor that morning and telling me about it. The shocked look on his face. I remember how we rushed to turn on the tv, how we barely pulled ourselves away to go to our appointment, how silent the airport was near where I worked the next day, how unreal it felt to have my bridal shower that weekend. How the flag draped on the window of the home where my shower was hosted is the background in most of my photos. How disconnected it felt to be celebrating in the face of such horrific tragedy. And, the unreal security and rearranged flights as we traveled on our honeymoon the next month. It is so odd to have such a terrible tragedy intertwined with our most incredible memories.

  2. I remember I had worked midnights, and had just climbed into bed. My brother called and woke me up just in time to see the 2nd plane. I remember thinking "this was no accident, and is going to change America forever' I didn't know how right I would be proven.
    I was part of a state disaster medical assistance team at the time, and immediately dressed and expected a call. When I got the call, I drove out to the airbase. Traffic was surprisingly, sparse, but everyone was speeding. I rarely speed, but even I noticed the guage climbing faster and faster. When I got to the airbase, the line for security was almost a mile long. Nobody was angry, everyone understood and almost expected the delay.

    We were waiting to hear confirmation of incoming disaster victims. Rumors abounded. Nothing ever happened. I slept on a sleeping bag on the floor on and off. Waiting.

    More than anything else,I remember the eerily blue sky wtih no con trails…no clouds…nothing but bright sunny blue skies.

  3. I live in Canada. I was up very early nursing my brand new (3 wks old) baby girl. The TV was on a news channel, the volume was very low, so as not to wake my older daughter or her father.
    I just happened to look up and see smoke billowing from one of the twin towers and watched the live feed of another plane crashing into the building. I didn't immediately understand that this was real and happening. I sat there stunned, not even realizing that my babe had detached from my breast and was laying in my arms staring at me. I was almost glued to the news reports speculating what happened.
    In the end, I am grateful to be Canadian, and grateful that no one I loved was there, that I wasn't one of those making frantic calls.
    In the end I was so sad that someone had seen fit to tear apart so many lives. I don't care who or what caused the terrible events, there is no cause big enough or important enough to shred the hearts and lives of people.

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