I know that Sept 11th is on your minds. How could it not be? Ever.
But 9/11 meeting social media does something that doesn’t feel quite right to me. This date is not about liking and sharing the best graphics, photos, quotes and videos. We’re all in information overload all the time and more doesn’t satisfy. Especially that which can only be quenched by real life experience.
I feel that we have crossed a threshold more important than sharing another pretty picture with a poignant message (although if you want one of those, I of course created one below….it’s par of the course on blogs these days.) But this threshold has to do with our youth. We are poised to start graduating from high schools a generation that was not mature enough to understand what was happening on September 11, 2001.
My first baby was 19 months on September 11, 2001. I was a single mom then and sped home from work as soon as they would let me, snatched him up and just left. We didn’t watch TV. We got away from the media. I snuggled him closer. We played at the park. It was a gorgeous amazing September day with bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. Nature was sending us the signal. Life is beautiful and it’s all going to be ok and that’s all I wanted to believe in the future lying ahead for my innocent baby.
13 years have passed and he is now a freshman in high school. And everything is ok. And it’s not, all at the same time. There seems to be more violence. More corporate fraud. No end in sight for war and terrorism around the world. The gap between those who have and those who are barely squeaking by as middle class is a gaping chasm. Too many school shootings. And sexual predators.
But things are great. There are some amazing new treatments and cures for some kinds of cancer. And opportunities to travel around the world virtually via video calls. And to talk to loved ones via your smartphone as if you are standing in the same room. And a zillion encyclopedias at your fingertips on google. Opportunities to easily start your own business online. Social media and blog platforms to give everyone a voice that can reach around the world. Amazon ships in a day and is working on shipping within hours. Our knowledge of nutrition has aided in better health and relief from symptoms of all kinds. Doctors are performing thousands of miraculous surgeries to correct our brains, our eyes, our babies still in utero.
This world is amazing. When you look for the amazing. And it’s doom and gloom when you don’t. So what message are we going to send to our youth this September 11th? Are they going to look around and see us with grief stricken, fearful looks from that day 13 years ago still haunting our face? Or are they going to see pride and honor and a fighting spirit that says “not in my time, not on our soil.” Do they even “get it”? Have we taught them well so they understand the significance of this one day in our recent American history? So should the day ever come in their lifetime, they can unbottle that same passion and stand proud for our country?
I pray to God that they do. September 11th is now about the legacy. We didn’t roll over and let them have at us. We joined together and supported each other no matter what our differences. Without a doubt, those who lost their lives that day deserve our respect. And their families our support. For those who lost a loved on on this day, it may never be easy to get through. But I’m certain those who lost their lives, want us to be passing on the spirit of the strong community and pride that captivated us all in the days and weeks and months and years that followed.
Beware of what you ingest about 9/11. News is way more in our face than ever before. If you don’t like what you are seeing on Facebook, shut it off. If you watch too much, you are drawn into the vortex Don’t get sucked into the grief, the drama, the fear based messages you find in some news programs. Or even the soft side of things. The ultra sad stories of babies that will never know their daddies. Of firefighters who worked at ground zero relentlessly who are now losing their lives to cancers from all that they were exposed to in the rubble. I challenge you all to look outside of the box of what we’ve come to expect on 9/11 (yes, 13 years does create repetition, complacency and expectations of reactions and behavior.). Be intentional about what news you ingest. Watch or read international news for a change. Get a fresh perspective and study our history in the making. And most importantly, talk about that with our youth. Our stories and discussions are now the only way these kids who are high school age and younger will be able to relate to the events of 9/11.
My son, as a white male, is actually the minority in many of his classes and clubs in our community. He interacts on a daily basis with hindu and muslim and christian and atheist. He has had the opportunity to travel to a third world country and see poverty firsthand. He’s only known an African American president. And he was 19 months on September 11, 2001. Think of how different his view of the world must be. How do we convey to kids like him the powerful event that shaped who each of us are in some way?
It’s time that the legacy of 9/11 is more than memorial services and starts to take action. It needs to be more than a pretty memorial photo on your social media page. We must have engaging discussions, fervently serve and actively train up our youth in America. We need to be journaling and video documenting and capturing the essence of this history while it’s still fresh enough in our minds so that it’s not lost for our children who will soon be the leaders of our country.
Never forget now requires teaching and storytelling. Because it’s too easy to forget when you weren’t the one who lived through it. Have you seen the passion in the eyes of a World War I or II era grandparent or neighbor? The stories are compelling. It keeps me on the edge of my seat wondering where that bravery came from. I’m in awe of the freedoms that were once again preserved when our was threatened on our own soil. These are some of the most meaningful and memorable conversations I’ve ever had in my life.
And now it’s our turn. It’s our turn to speak with the same passion and spirit about the significance of 9/11 and to leave those milestone conversations in the memories of our youth. Use firefighting as a segue into the conversation since it’s something your children can relate to. Talk about what firefighters did on that day and the days that followed. Talk about the civilians who lost their life and others who stepped boldly into service and of course what our military warriors will do for us any day at a moments notice. But please don’t just talk about the 343. Talk about the thousands. And the millions of Americans who lived through that moment in history.
This sign sits by my kitchen sink so I can read it everyday.
What our children see in the world depends on what we show them.
What are you going to show children this September 11th?
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