Every September 11th, we are presented with the words, “never forget”. The tragic events of 9/11 took place 22 years ago this week, and the legacy of the attack is one that will always stain our nation’s history. We wish to honor and memorialize the lives of the 2,977 innocent lives lost.
However, as our nation moves forward, and the events of 9/11 distance themself into history, the idea of “never forgetting” becomes harder to achieve.
This past Monday, on the 22nd anniversary of the attack, I sat down with my parents and twin brother at the dinner table. As we talked, the idea of “remembering where you were” came up.
It is an event where every American remembers exactly where they were, how they felt, and how they reacted. It was such a potent moment in American history that the memories remain vivid for everyone to this day.
My mom was at home that day. She was in the family room after hearing about how a plane flew into the North Tower, glued to the Today Show in shock and horror. Next to my mom, my brother and I, both just over 9 months old at the time, were crawling on the carpet, oblivious to the horrors happening in New York or the impact that it would have on the world that we grew up in.
An Obligation to Truth
I don’t remember 9/11. I don’t remember where I was, or what I was doing, or how I felt.
So, while I could write to you about how the tragic events of 9/11 changed the world that I inherited, my writing to you today has a simple message.
I don’t know.
Sure, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City this past month, and it was easily one of the most emotionally heavy experiences of my life, but it doesn’t change the reality that I simply just don’t know what it was like on that day.
We, as a country, need to be okay saying “I don’t know”. We need to trust folks who have lived through certain events and experiences to be the ones to tell the story.
So, while yes, I am not old enough to remember the events of September 11th, the legacy and impact of it was enshrined in me by those around me who lived through it.
Only by entrusting the legacy of our nation, both good and bad, to those who live through it, can we preserve the true history of our county. It means letting communities of color tell the story of their own communities, letting women shape the future of their healthcare, and in my case, letting those old enough to remember September 11th, 2001, share the weight and impact of that day with myself and the next generation.
One day, each and every one of us will be responsible for passing our life’s experience down to the next generation. Our experiences become dinner table conversations and stories to our kids and grandkids. In this era of disinformation, it is important, now more than ever, to pass those experiences and stories on responsibly, letting each and every American tell their own authentic story.
Thank you for reading,
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All the best,