Remembering Nine-Eleven

It was a little after nine when my conversation with Barton’s kitchen designer ended after discussing our new countertop in what would be a completely redesigned kitchen. As a part time teacher at Crowley’s Ridge Academy, I wasn’t due for a couple of hours on campus. Something sparked a look at the television where images I will never forget were playing over and over. 

I went to the campus to find many of my high school students huddled around a television in complete silence. We watched with horror as the events unfolded and then began the difficult task of trying to process what we had witnessed. Everyone felt a need to touch base with loved ones as rumors of other attacks gripped the country before we realized the scope of the original targets.

Like many major events in our memory, each of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of nine-eleven. It took me back to the third grade where our elementary school gathered to watch the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas Texas.

Any violence against such a public figure or a public place threatens our own sense of well-being. If it could happen to them it could happen to us. If it could happen there, it could happen here. Even with the frequency of terror attacks and shootings that we see on the news, most of us are still not numb to the shock they bring.

After 15 years, another generation has filled our schools with no personal memory of the events of nine-eleven. As parents and educators, we are faced with two options as we remember. We can display the images in an attempt to educate a new generation or we can shield them from the images in hopes of moving on without all the horror we experienced.

As you consider how to proceed, I would remind you that reality is different from the gratuitous violence available on a movie screen. With denials of the Holocaust still swimming around, only the images can bring that distant reality squarely into the minds of a generation who did not witness the impact of what one person is capable of doing to another. Yet, most of our war memorials focus on the lives of those lost rather than the horrible events that cost them their lives.

Remembering is foundational to education. We cannot move forward without remembering the past. The question is, should we focus on those who took over the airplanes and what they did or would it be better to focus on those who assisted the orderly evacuation of others at the cost of their own lives? We can choose to remember the violence or we can focus instead on the sacrifice and heroism of otherwise ordinary people.

Hug your loved ones today. Do it again tomorrow. Memories of what we can lose will fade. Cherishing the reality of what we have will grow and prosper if we nurture it.
Dr. Matt Crain has written Sunday newspaper articles for eleven years through his Connecting Fathers and Families ministry. Reach him at