Next year, September 11, 2021, will mark the 20-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the 2,977 people who lost their lives on that day and on the days following. As time passes, the pain and fear of those days have dulled, and many young adults have no knowledge of the attacks outside of their history textbooks and the stories their parents have shared. Today we face new fears and tragedies that the whole world shares in. How can we possibly approach teaching tragedies and equipping our children to handle them? How can we even truly express the tragedy and horror of what happened on September 11, 2001?
The day is here again. If you’re eighteen or older, you can probably remember where you were on this day thirteen years ago. When I heard the news that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center towers, I was at my desk developing an English lesson. Suddenly only one pronoun mattered—Who?—along with a very important adverb—Why? Fresh waves of horror washed over me as the day went on and I learned the answers, saw the images, and heard more details about the atrocity.
For some, the horror was much more personal. Thousands lost family members, friends, and loved ones in the tragedy of 9/11. The following year, September 11 was designated by President George W. Bush as Patriot Day, a day of remembrance. Americans continue to set aside this day to honor the memory of the nearly three thousand people who died in the terrorist attacks. Included in that number are those who died in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, or aboard the four hijacked flights as well as the heroic emergency personnel who lost their lives in the rescue efforts.
Why is it important to remember? Why should today’s children who have no memory of the day be aware of this horrific event? Reasons are probably rapid-firing through your mind like machine gun shots: to learn to abhor evil, to learn to revere true heroes, to know how our nation has responded to terrorism in the past, to think critically about appropriate responses in the present and the future. But perhaps the greatest reason is to remind our children to who to turn to in the midst of national crisis. What exactly should be going on in a Christian’s mind during a “moment of silence” on Patriot Day? Who is our only true refuge and strength, constantly available for help in any time of distress and bewilderment? Psalm 46 is a great place to begin answering these questions.
One way to help today’s children commemorate this important day is to visit the 9/11 Memorial website. Here you can find lesson plans, view webcasts, and listen to stories from first responders and survivors. The website also offers interactive timelines and a name finder for the memorial that now stands at the attack site in New York City. If you live in that area, you could personally visit the 9/11 Memorial and explore the collections housed in the museum. Whatever you do, don’t miss this golden opportunity to shape the worldview of the next generation. Don’t let September 11, 2001, go unremembered.