I didn’t wave any flags this year or post any inspiring patriotic posts on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, for the most part, I tried to avoid social and new media coverage. It’s twelve years after the 9/11 attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people and the images of that day — the feelings of loss and mourning — are still fresh in my mind.
Instead of letting others tell me how I should feel, remember or memorialize those events, I chose to grieve privately. I chose to focus on the memories of the lives that were lost, the families that were broken apart and the heroes that will not live to see another day.
I chose to remember the husbands, wives and children whose lives have been forever altered by that single moment in time– loved ones suddenly stolen from them. Their lives will never be the same — our world will never be the same.
In the days leading up to this anniversary, I heard people suggest that maybe it was time to move on. Tell that to families. Yes, it’s true that life goes on, must go on… but to suggest that we can, or should, put that day behind us, is not only insensitive but also ignorant and disrespectful.
History repeats itself when we choose to forget.
Last January, I was privileged to accompany a group of students to New York City and that visit included a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. A handful of those students had been in my play, September’s Heroes, a docu-drama surrounding the events of 9/11 in the fall of 2011. Even though we spent two months working, researching and then performing the play– I think it was still somewhat distant to them.
Visiting the 9/11 Memorial brought that all together.
Standing on that hallowed ground, realizing that the two massive pools were the footprints of where those two towers once stood and reading the names etched around those pools made it real for them. It was emotional. It was extremely emotional for me, seeing that link come together. It brought history to life for them– a moment in time that they were almost too young to remember.
There are now school-aged children who weren’t even born when those towers fell. They need to know what happened.
They need to know why we are talking about our rights to privacy, why there’s an ongoing war on terror and why they have to remove their shoes at airports. They need to know.
We are the memory of those that were lost. We are the link to that moment in history that has led to significant changes in all our lives.
We are the storytellers.