I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

History Lessons

The oldest of my students this year are 17. Most are 16, a couple 15. The oldest are definitely more adult than child, and even the youngest don't seem like kids at this point. They are thoughtful, intelligent people and it's a joy to teach them.

Not a single one of them remembers 9/11/2001.

They have never known a United States that wasn't at war. They have never known a United States that didn't have the Patriot Act.
They have never known a United States where you could fly without taking your belt off.
They have never known a United States that felt secure.
They have never known a United States characterized by optimism and hope.

I was 8 years old in September of 2001. I can't claim any great understanding of the state of the country before, but I remember seeing things change. I remember seeing Muslims go from just people in unusual hats, to a source of apprehension. I remember seeing airport security become uncomfortable and very slow. I remember seeing adults argue, and eventually fight, over what we should do next. I remember seeing movies turn dark and gritty.

I also remember many people standing up and doing right. I remember people relearning, as every few generations has to, about sacrifice and duty. I remember a nation coming together in unity, grief, and resolve.

The legacy of 9/11 is a complex one, and I'm hardly the one to describe it. Today has made me wonder for my students though. How do we teach them about today? How do we show what was lost? How can we teach them that hope and unity are possible? Can we do all that without casting blame and hatred on those who have made mistakes?

I don't know how to teach that. I hope someone does. Our students need to know.