What does ‘never forget’ mean to you?

Today is the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks committed against the USA.  While there is much to write about the heroes of that day, I’d rather hear from my readers.

I was a freshman at Texas A&M University in 2001 and our phone rang early that Tuesday morning.  My roommate picked up the phone to hear his mom exasperatedly yelling that we’ve been attacked and to turn on the TV.  We turned on the TV just in time to watch the second plane hit the World Trade Center.  The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, from professors thinking we made the story up as an excuse to get class cancelled (they hadn’t heard the news yet and it admittedly sounded a bit crazy) to groups of students meeting on campus to weep, pray, and hope for our wounded country.  Elsewhere there were stories of people seeing the news, dropping what they were doing, and making their way to military recruitment centers because they knew war was coming.

As quickly as the terror of that day took place you saw images and read stories of heroism.  From the firefighters running up the stairs of the World Trade Center, knowing the towers could collapse at any moment, to Todd Beamer’s famous “let’s roll” quote that exemplified the fighting spirit of our country, these stories were desperately needed as we saw repeated imagery of planes slamming into buildings in the media.

What’s crazy to me is how different that world was compared to today.  There was no Twitter back then, no Facebook.  24 hour news networks were barely a thing back then.  I checked in on my friends at other campuses through AOL Instant Messenger.

One of the first things we heard as that we will ‘never forget’ 9/11/2001.  On this Monday morning I want to hear from you.  What does ‘never forget’ mean to you?  What memories do you have of that horrible day?  What lessons do you think we may have forgotten?  What do you think we need to remember the most?

3 Comments

  1. For me, “never forget” means that we should remember how we demonstrated we are human beings and Americans filled with great compassion and fundamental goodness that can overcome petty rivalries when we truly are driven to do so. We are called the United States, we can be united if we try.

    Reply
  2. Never forget how you felt that day. It’s easy to let time smooth it over the unpleasantness, but we need to remember our helplessness, confusion and anger.

    Reply
  3. Andy… Thank you for writing this and giving us all a moment to remember how this day 16 years ago showed the remarkable evil, but also the tremendous courage and resilience that we are capable of as people.

    This particular post hit home for me as I was also a college freshman in 2001, but at the University of Pittsburgh. Your story from Texas A&M nearly mirrors the way I found out, the way the story spread through the Pitt campus community, and the way the students and faculty reacted to the news. While far from the most dramatic of stories from that day, it was a definitely a surreal experience being away from home for the first time, trying to fit into a new and unfamiliar environment, and then having this unthinkable tragedy happen in the middle of such a unique period of life. It’s impossible for us to compare our lives now to what would have been had this event not happened, but I can undoubtedly say that my life changed drastically on that day.

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