I remember arriving at school as a fourth grader one day in December to a message on the blackboard written by Sister Mary Rose. I had to squint to make out the lettering, because I was nearsighted, but I didn’t know it yet.
It read, “Remember Pearl Harbor,” and I had no idea what it meant. Was it a reference to a homework assignment I’d forgotten about? Some geography lesson I’d daydreamed through? I broke out in a cold, clammy sweat.
I waited all day for that ominous sentence to entrap me, but the moment never came. Sister Mary Rose didn’t mentioned the writing on the board that day, and no one, as far as I can remember, ever brought it up. It was only several years later, in a high school history class, that I actually put two and two together to figure out what “Remember Pearl Harbor” meant.
It’s hard to believe that twelve years ago, September 11th was just another day. I was thinking about those events, those people, more than usual this morning, probably because here in Cleveland the weather was almost exactly the same as it was eleven years ago – blue sky, warm breeze, sun. On the drive home from school, I asked my kids if they had talked about today’s significance and if so, what had been said. They’d had a commemoration, and they both seemed aware of its solemnity. Still, I felt compelled to retell the tale, wanting to make sure the weight of it was fully understood.
Because though September 11th will always be important, a day will come when most of our citizens will only know it as part of the dusty past. My children, not yet born in September of 2001, will always be one generation removed. They will never pause to think what they were doing at 8:45 on that morning, and they will never associate this date in history with competing feelings of patriotism, fear, and dread.
I suppose that’s how it should be. Still, let’s never permit September 11th to be another scribble on a blackboard. Let’s never forget.Did you like this? Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)