Recalling a National Memory
There is a defining moment in our recent national history. A moment that divides those of us who remember what happened from those of us who were too young to remember a morning when our lives were altered.
It is hard to fathom that a moment that is so etched in my memory is a national memory, a historical reference, to the students I work with on a daily basis. There may be one or two students who have a personal family experience that connects them to that tragic day. But each year, that number decreases. Each year it becomes a little easier to talk about with students because they have a distanced perspective. They can grapple with the images and the stories of loss and heroism with the detachment that only time provides. Each year it becomes a little more difficult for me to talk about with my students because I realize it is no longer a shared experience at the start of our discussion.
Over the course of our discussion, though, that changes. As we discuss September 11, 2001, I share my memories. I share where I was when I heard the news. I tell them how long it took before I knew that my family was safe. I tell them how I felt when I returned to campus and heard the ROTC drills ring across the courtyard. By honestly sharing my experience, I help my students understand that moment. And we bridge the divide between those who remember and those who cannot.