“Nine years ago, I was two years old, Mom,” Corban casually mentioned during our morning drive. “And Elias, you weren’t even born yet. Do you remember 9/11, Mom?”
Yes, I remember it like every other American remembers it.
Where were you when the planes hit the Twin Towers? I was standing in my kitchen having just dropped off my daughter at school. The tv was on, but more for background noise, as if my toddler wasn’t providing enough on his own.
What were you thinking as you watched the tv? I was thinking it was a joke, or a mistake, or an accident. And then I thought about driving to the school to get my daughter. I thought about asking Peter to come home from work. I thought it was a little over-the-top that the shopping malls were being shut down but I wasn’t getting called to bring my daughter home. I thought that this might be it.
But Corban connecting his own age to the events we have all spent more than a moment or two today remembering gave me pause to consider how my responses to his and his siblings’ questions will frame, shade and color their understanding of history made in their lifetime.
We did not watch any news coverage today. We listened a bit to radio spots about memorial services held, but we did not go out of our way to see the images – video and still photographs – again. But we continued to talk. We talked about how scared, worried, confused, angry, sad, lost and shocked I was, we all were. But I also talked about how the day was as “normal” as it could be for him, a two-year-old at the time.
So much has changed for all of us, even those of us who were only connected to the unspeakable acts of terrorism by residency or citizenship or humanity. Like some of you, I did not know anyone who died as a result of 9/11. But all of us have wrestled with the brokenness of the world in a way we did not expect.
Shortly after 9/11 Peter and I argued about something that now seems so silly. We argued over the fact that he had left shopping for my birthday gift to the last minute, which meant he couldn’t/didn’t get a gift for me until after my birthday. Why? Because in all of the post-9/11 crazy, so many public buildings were closed to the public. Every shopping mall in the metro area was closed.
We were all so terribly afraid.
Bethany had just started kindergarten and now nine years later she is in high school. Today the country commemorated 9/11 but I know she and her friends mulled over how miserable high school is.
Corban could hardly communicate and here he was initiating the conversation.
Elias was not quite three weeks away from making his dramatic but fast-paced entrance into the world.
And Peter and I had no idea how our stories and memories would help shape the future and history.
How do you remember and tell your history?