Friday, September 11, 2009


It's hard to believe it has been 8 years since the 9-11 terror attacks. As I sit here and watch the news coverage, listening to the names and the bells, the horror of it all washes over me anew. To this day, I cannot see the people jumping to their deaths from the flaming towers without crying. The fear and desperation those poor people experienced in their last moments hits me to the core. As distressing as those images are, though, I'm glad they are being shown. Anyone who can look at those images and then turn around and call waterboarding torture are obviously not grasping the realities of the situation.

We have all seen the images of the towers on fire over and over, as well as the thick black smoke pouring out of a gaping hole in the Pentagon and the smoking remains in that empty field near Shanksville, PA. Those images are burned into our brains, but they don't give us, 8 years later, the full impact of what we truly lost. Yes, those towers were iconic symbols of a mighty country, but they were, after all, just buildings.

But then, once a year, we see the images that we just can't reconcile. Innocent victims, either by choice or by accident, tumbling out of windows to their deaths thousands of feet below. Did they choose the fall to burning to death? Or was it accidental; people desperate to find a way out through the thick black smoke, stumbling through one of the many shattered windows to their death? Either way, it is an image that haunts us all. Those images are not played nearly as often as the images of the planes hitting the towers, and I'm thankful for a reason you might not expect.

Constant, repetitive replaying would inure us to the horror, as the replaying of the planes hitting the towers has dulled the impact of the act over the intervening years. The images of people leaping to their deaths is something usually seen only on the anniversary, and that restricted viewing keeps those images potent and fresh in our minds. We tend to forget that particular horror, to block it from our minds, so that when we are confronted by it again, it hurts us anew.

And we need to be hurt, we need to feel the pain of that day. We need to keep it fresh, keep it raw, keep that white-hot ember of pain deep inside of us burning.

When our children are old enough (as I feel, this year, that one of mine is), they should be shown those images. Not by schools, mind you, but by their parents. Some teachable moments require the love and understanding of a parent, not the institutionalized, sanitized, impersonal recitation they would get from school. Schools need to teach about 9-11, of course. That goes without saying. Historic events like that should always be a part of the curriculum. But we parents need to open our children's eyes to the horrors the terrorists inflicted upon us in all their devastating realities so that they can then carry the torch.

That torch, lit by the burning ember of our collective grief, must be carried forth by successive generations.

Superimposing the oh so personal face of fellow Americans falling to their deaths on the more general images of destruction ensures that ensuing generations will not be able to shrug off the events of that day indifferently as just buildings that fell down.

Those who lost their lives that day deserve nothing less.

God Bless those who lost their lives that dark day, those who lost loved ones, those in uniform who risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and God Bless America.

1 comment:

  1. We watched "102 Minutes That Changed America" last night with our 9 year old. There were a lot of questions, a lot of answers and a lot of tears.