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It Bothers Me that Sept. 11 is Becoming “Historical” and in the Distant Past

This is a drawing my daughter made on Sept. 11, 2001, when she was six.


My daughter understood the devastation and the loss of that day. As for myself, I have noticed a diminishing sadness when I contemplate September 11. It seems the shock has softened some for me, to be honest. I don’t notice the empty New York City skyline like I used to. When I watch an old movie with the Twin Towers in the skyline, I notice their absence, but it doesn’t catch my breath like it used to, and it bothers me that the event is becoming “historical”… in the distant past.

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From a Statue of Liberty ferry | August 1997

Of course, for those who lost loved ones on that day, it’s a different story. 2001 may still be as near to them as the last intersection they drove through. I understand that for many, September 11 lingers near.

It’s still frustrating and difficult to explain what we experienced that day to people who are either too young to remember or weren’t even born yet. I’ve been trying to explain it for the past sixteen years, but still can’t convey the sorrow and shock of that day.I suppose it’s similar for those who were alive when President Kennedy was assassinated. I was born two years before that awful event, and I’m sure many had a difficult time trying to explain that to those of my age. For me, it was just relegated to being “historical”… in the distant past.

I do talk about the September 11 attacks with my eighth-grade English Language Arts classes, and discussing it every year does keep the event in the forefront of my mind in the fall.

Every year, we watch “The Center of the World,” the last disc in the eight-DVD series “New York: The Documentary.” It’s directed by Ric Burns of Steeplechase Films. The documentary eloquently conveys the horror of the day, the response of New York City and the nation, and a recognition that, although our collective soul was irrevocably altered in the span of a few hours, the United States of America will prevail. It’s my hope that this excellent film relates better than I can that September 11 is relevant and important, not merely “historical”… in the distant past.





By Marilyn Yung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

10 replies on “It Bothers Me that Sept. 11 is Becoming “Historical” and in the Distant Past”

There is a diminishing sadness that I try to deny. This week has reminded me of sixteen years ago when the CT skies were so blue and so clear, and the NYC skies were so full of smoke and dust. Just as 9/11 was surreal, Florida is surreal. Thanks for putting into words so many different ideas. It’s a beautiful and important post.

Liked by 1 person

I could not agree with you more. I too wrote a slice about 9/11 and I echo the same sentiments as you. I don’t want it to be something more “historical” and forgotten. I wrote in my slice that I watch documentaries and read things about 9/11 simply because I feel I owe to those that perished, to remember. I watched 102 Minutes That Changed America (again) last night with my daughter. My husband asked why I would watch something that would “scare her.” I explained that I was not trying to scare her, but rather, teach her about this very important event in history, citing the bombing of Pearl Harbor (which we live near) and Kennedy’s assassination. Thank you so much for sharing and making me feel like I wasn’t the only one feeling this way about September 11. I will be sure to try and get my hands on “The Center of the World.” Thank you!

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Thank you for reading and commenting! I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed a fleeting sense of remembrance regarding 9/11. I don’t think we’re scaring kids when we watch 9/11 documentaries. I think we are equipping them with historical knowledge. Kids want to know.

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Our school, in Indianapolis, in many ways far removed from New York City and 9-11, and still part of it as every American, has a special program every year. It has become part of history- we have passed the point where none of our students were even born before that day, but the remembering is so important.

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I’m glad your school has a program regarding 9/11. My school observes a moment of silence in class at the beginning of the day, but that’s all. I am right now creating a project about 9/11… a “written collage” where student reflect on what they know, interview an adult who remembers, and then a visual element. We’ll see how it turns out. Thanks again.


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