As we all know, yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It feels strange to think that it only happened ten years ago. I remember where I was on that day: 13 years old, in 8th grade, sitting at my desk in Algebra class, staring at the TV mounted on the wall, and not believing that what I saw was real. It took me awhile to understand the implications of the event and how it would change America.
What’s even more strange is that yesterday I was teaching my Sunday school class and we asked them what they knew about 9/11 and how they found out about it. Not a single one of the children had even been born when the attacks took place. They had all been born sometime between 2002-2004. That made me feel pretty old. But since the attacks happened before they were born, it probably felt like ancient history to them. Events that happen before you are born might seem like something you’d only hear about on TV or in a history book. They don’t have that same immediacy they would have if you’d experienced them during your lifetime. They simply don’t seem as real.
It reminded me of World War II (and even the Vietnam War) and how it all seems like ancient history now, especially because of all the black and white photographs. But when you see those same photos in color, World War II suddenly seems like something that could happen again – it felt that much more real. That made me think that we should not let major events like 9/11 and wars become easily forgotten, nor should their importance and implications for the future become lessened with time. It’s important to keep learning from our country’s past – to keep moving forward and not make the same mistakes twice.
Human nature remains the same, no matter how advanced our technology becomes or how educated our citizens grow. We still have the tendency to repeat history – and a good knowledge of the past will help us fight that tendency. Just because it happened before we were born, or because there was no TV coverage, or because the photos were in black and white doesn’t make it any less important.