Tomorrow marks the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I was born in 2003, so I was not alive to remember the events that occurred that day. But the tragedy had a significant impact on my upbringing, and nearly every American around my age can relate.
My parents had their own 9/11 story, and it is nothing particularly unique. However, they lived in the Boston area, where the planes aimed for the World Trade Center departed, and witnessed the attacks on television with my older sister (who was only a toddler). I grew up not only hearing their 9/11 story, but also the ones of teachers and other family members. I recall that one of my elementary school teachers handed all of my classmates an American flag to commemorate the events, mostly because she wanted to make sure that we understood how much it shaped the world we were being raised in.
As expected, growing up in a post 9/11 America made certain unusual things to older adults appear totally normal to me. For example, I have never been to an airport without the TSA present. There have always been American troops in the Middle East during my lifetime. This is just a small part of policy changes made in response to the tragedy, and have lasted to this day.
It’s not uncommon for those who saw the tragedy unfold to be somewhat disturbed to know that people (many of which are now young adults) do not remember arguably the most important day in American history. So the big question is: how can my generation learn more about the attacks, as many of us were not around to watch it unfold?
The answer is simple. Those who have clear memories of the day need to tell their stories. Whether it is world leaders, survivors, or an average American, each story is significant to preserving history. And to Generation Z: we need to listen.
Unfortunately, the unity in the aftermath of 9/11 will be unmatched, especially in today’s political climate. But we need to continue to honor the nearly 3,000 souls that were lost. Their lives and tragic deaths defined America’s course for the 21st Century, and we must never forget.
Photo Source: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File