The Tragedy of Our Generation

“That must be a depressing class.” That’s the response I get most often when I tell people I’m taking a class on the post-9/11 world. “Actually…not really,” is the only thing I can say without going into too much detail and talking for half an hour. The fact is in this class we spend almost no time talking about The Day, September 11th, 2001. We talk about the before and after, what changed, or what didn’t change for that matter. We cannot spend every day talking about the actual day itself, where we were, what we thought, how we found out, how none of us –as third graders- could even begin to understand the force of the blow our country had just taken. In all honesty, it kind of came as a surprise to me when we were assigned a personal, point of view essay to read and reflect on.
I used red squares to mark off the “pathos” sections of the essay and green circles to mark off the “ethos.” When I look at my essay the red squares dominate. How could they not? How could anyone remember feeling any sort of logic prevailing over their emotions in the following days, months, ten years?
This is the tragedy of our generation. We will remember it with more emotions than facts. We want to forget it, and yet in some very human way we want it to remain present. In our own class we have expressed our anger at schools who have stopped doing a moment of silence on 9/11. We are left with no choice but to have it burnt into our memory, the way generations before us feel about their own tragedies, which now begin to pile up. We claim an almost possession over it, even when many of us were safe in our elementary schools in Virginia. It is something we need, we want, to feel a connection, a show of solidarity to the immense tragedy that happened to us ten years ago. With a balance of honest facts, an understanding of the politics behind it, and a place in our hearts where we keep how we felt that day the memory of those lost will continue to be as poignant a lesson in 100 years as it is today, 10 years later.

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