I write this on the 15th anniversary of the dreadful attacks on the U.S. at the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 over Shanksville, Pa.
To me, the ceremonies are as moving and emotional as ever, especially as real-life witnesses recount their experiences and even more so, the first responders.
This is one of those dates that sticks in your mind and you know exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard of or saw the events unfurl, live on TV. Like JFK’s assassination or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s.
I distinctly remember saying to my wife and kids, “The world will never be the same after this.” Events that have unfolded since can be laid at the feet of these acts of willful murder and violence – our involvement in Afghanistan, fighting al-Qaida, the war in Iraq, the Arab Spring, radical Islam and the rise of ISIS, to name just a few.
George Bush naively believed that the world should embrace democracy. That can only happen in a country where the people actually want democracy – not to have it forced down their throats. It’s now almost a rehash of The Crusades of the 11th century, just not dictated by the Pope this time.
I was listening to the radio in the car today. There was a report of the knowledge and understanding of the Sept. 11 events by children under 15. For such awful, recent history their knowledge was horribly and woefully lacking. Some didn’t realize the Pentagon had been a target and even less so, that Flight 93 was involved.
It was stated that educators were “struggling how to deal with the subject or whether to even include it” in their curricula. What? Are we to be like the Russians or North Koreans or the Chinese and rip out pages of the history books as though things never happened? Fear of offending students’ sensibilities was one position. What absolute drivel and hogwash!
References to racism and slavery are going that way as though denial of our very own history, as a country, will exonerate those ugly smears or make them go away completely. History is the passing of real events, not some whimsical interpretation or partial recognition of what may have happened (or not).
Teachers should be able to tell what happened, plain and simple. Perhaps healthy debate and discussion would or should follow – that’s the way a child learns – hear the facts and digest them in his or her own way.
There is as much to learn about goodness, heroism, sympathy, human spirit and kindness among all kinds of other attributes within the scope of monumental, historical happenings such as those of 9/11. The more kids know about it, the better they will be able to deal with events in their lifetimes. A lack of knowledge spells ill for a prepared adulthood.
This must be another wave of political correctness – avoiding the elephant in the room – if we have a multi-ethnic society, which we do, we should be able and willing to talk about world events in our own contexts without fear and quite openly.
If it’s acceptable to ‘take a knee’ during a rendition of the national anthem as a right to freedom of expression then that same right pervades schoolyards and classroom walls.
My nine-year old grandson, already an avid reader, brought home a library book called “Towers Falling” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, recommended by his language arts teacher. It tells of a young girl’s quest to find out why the two towers can’t be seen from her classroom window any more and all the things she learns on her way about herself, her family and many other broader issues. He said I should read it. I will, and maybe you will too.