Editorial: Do You Remember?

North Wind Staff

We were barely out of kindergarten, just kids. Our parents struggled with how to explain it to us, grappled over whether to let us watch the videos that kept looping over and over on television. But we did watch them.

Comic Credit: Dorsey Sprouls
Comic Credit: Dorsey Sprouls

We grew up with those images seared into our earliest memories, the shadows of the dark towers looming over us, over our sense of security. Sept. 11. 9/11. Twin Towers. Terrorists.

They were words to us, but the picture of the towers engulfed in smoke, followed by crumbling buildings and the fear it struck on our parents’ faces — that said more to us.

It was a bright, late summer day in Michigan, with clouds scattered throughout the sky. Most of us were in elementary school. Our teachers canceled recess. We complained among ourselves. “Why can’t we go outside?”

Some of us watched in horror as our teachers broke down, as other grown-ups ran into our classrooms, covering their faces with their hands, crying into their fingers, muttering in hushed voices.

We wanted to know what was wrong. The fear began then, the unknowing.

Older students were hustled into the gymnasium where the principal explained with reddened eyes. School was abruptly canceled and we were sent home. Parents rushed to our schools to pick us up. Some of us spent the day with our families in front of the television, watching and rewatching that clip played over and over again.

We saw the falling towers and the smoke surrounding the buildings. We watched as  people jumped to their deaths.

We didn’t fully understanding the weight of what was happening. Some of us asked questions about the gruesome photos.

Some of our parents talked frankly with us. Others simply didn’t have the words. And we grew up with that morbid thought that something awful could happen again in a plane.

Would we ever feel safe in the world?

To this day, there are moments when we travel by airplane that our imaginations drift, and we see a passenger plane slowly obliterating, shimmering sheets of glass and metal.

We’ve never been able to breeze through airport security as our older brothers and sisters or our parents.

Sometimes we worry: Does that backpack hold a gun, a bomb or a pressure cooker filled with nails?

Our generation has been driven by this tragedy that happened on the threshold of our childhood, coloring our sense of patriotism and pride.

In those few minutes in the morning of Sept. 11, terrorism and fear became part of our lives.

It’s always been there, in our subconscious, seared in our earliest memories, intertwined with those horrible videos we saw on that bright, late summer day.

It is our duty to uphold that memory and use it to drive our passions, and to value life. Sept. 11 isn’t just a date. It’s a pivotal moment of our generation, a catalyst for us to try to make the world a different place.