Wanted to repost an article I wrote for the Herald Tribune (Sarasota, FL) on the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I still find truth in this answer to why we remember and how we remember an event like 9-11.
My husband and I were living in a small fishing town in Alaska on 9/11/01. Because our home was on a separate island, we boated in to work every day. Upon arriving at the docks on that particular morning, we found fishermen gathered around a radio. Gathering around a radio was such an unlikely thing for fishermen to do. We knew something was amiss.
I was two months pregnant with my firstborn when those planes crashed into the Twin Towers. After watching videos repeatedly played on TV of burning buildings vaporizing into dust and sane people jumping to their deaths, it was hard to think of anything else than to what kind of world I was delivering my child. What were our lives going to be like? Should we move back home to the southeast and live closer to family? Was my child going to know the freedom of playing in the backyard with tadpoles and fireflies, or would we be too afraid to let him outside?
So it came as quite a surprise when the other morning, as I drove my now 9 year-old to school, he talked about 9/11 like I would talk about the American Revolution, one piece in the tapestry of American history. The tragedy of that day was so explicably tied to my womb.
How did he not know he was such a huge piece of the larger narrative for our little family?
It makes me wonder, though. Why would I want him to know anything more? Isn’t knowing that people hijacked planes to kill themselves and thousands of others enough? Doesn’t he feel freer to play in the backyard and catch tadpoles and fireflies because he hasn’t been saturated in the horrid details, scared of what might happen next?
We each have our own 9/11 memories. A number of us were actual witnesses to the tragedy. Others lost family members and friends. There are even some in this town [Sarasota, FL] who were sitting at the knees of the President when he first heard the news. For many of us our lives have never been the same.
There’s a story in the Hebrew Bible about remembering. After the nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan River, God asked Joshua to gather 12 men from each tribe.
Each of these men was to go back to the middle of the Jordan River, pick up a stone, and carry it on his shoulder.
“The stones will serve as a reminder to you. In days to come, your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them that the Lord cut off the flow of water in the Jordan River. Tell them its water stopped flowing when the ark of the covenant of the Lord went across. The stones will always remind the Israelites of what happened there” (Joshua 4).
What did happen there? After years wandering in the desert, what did God want Israel to never forget?
It was that the living God was among them. The living God didn’t leave their side.
On this 10th anniversary of 9/11, we will do a lot of remembering. Some of our memories will be the replay of what took place that day. Some of our memories will be how our lives were forever changed. As a mother to young children who will hear about the tragedy of 9/11 over and over again, I hope what they hear is that in the midst of that terrible day, and in the midst of the months and years that have followed, God was among us. The living God never left our side. As a person of faith I know it’s my job to share that narrative as the pervading one.
May we never forget. May we never forget the display of sacrificial love as men and women risked their lives for others. May we never forget how people suddenly had compassion for one another, quelling tendencies to be quick to anger with expressions of love. May we never forget how we gathered in communities, in our synagogues, churches, mosques and other places of worship and refused to let evil and destruction have the last word, but instead put our hope and trust in God. May we never forget, so that when our children ask what happened, we can recall a day where God was indeed among us, that the living God never left us, and that the living God will never leave our side.
Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2011/09/10/3483052/ten-years-later-why-remember-911.html#storylink=cpy