Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A day when nearly 3,000 Americans died and many more were injured. Often forgotten, hundreds continue to die every year from related illnesses. These people were more than just our fellow countrymen; they were humans. Humans who were just going to work. They were going to work not only in the office buildings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and on the hijacked airplanes but also in the fire trucks and in the patrol cars of New York and Washington. While many ran from the dangers of the attacks, heroic firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and everyday citizens ran towards the danger, giving what Abraham Lincoln called the “last full measure of devotion.”
“Never forget” is the common rallying cry around that day, but far too often, we seem to forget. According to Congressman Andrew Garbarino, as of 1 year ago, only 14 states mandate 9/11 education as part of their curriculum. My home state does not mandate any education about the September 11th attacks. In my experience, although my hometown was about 30 minutes from downtown Manhattan, there was no certainty that 9/11 would be mentioned at any point in our curriculum, from Kindergarten to 12th Grade. It was up to each individual teacher to create lessons surrounding the topic, if they so chose. One of the most impactful and powerful lessons in my years of education came from my professor who worked on Wall Street and lost three of his close friends during the attacks. He would take one day out of the year to talk to us as adults about his experience, what that day meant to him, and how we could honor the people who were lost that day. It was incredibly moving. It also shouldn’t be up to individual teacher’s discretion whether or not they want to teach about such an important topic.
As the years go on, teachers will retire, and students will be further removed from the September 11th attacks. It is important that future generations learn what happened that day. It’s vital they learn about the ordinary acts of extreme heroism and duty, about the Global War on Terror that followed, about the faults in our intelligence system that allowed critical evidence to fall through the cracks. All of this is vital, but only so much can be learned through reading a page in a textbook. Conversations, multimedia, and other forms of education are critical to ensuring that the memory of that day and the days preceding and following are truly never forgotten.
As important as it is to remember the events of that day and their consequences, we should also remember the way that America healed. Americans ceased, at least for a little while, to see each other as a Republican or Democrat. They looked beyond individual differences and came together to support each other through one of our darkest hours. They refused to be defined by their worst days and sought to become the best they possibly could. These are values every American should be proud of, and seek to pass down to the next generation. If that isn’t the purpose of an American education, to teach us to be the best versions of ourselves, then I don’t know what is. It is time for America to adopt universal 9/11 education that teaches students the events of that day and the incredible acts of heroism that must not be forgotten. An education that teaches us that Americans will not be defined by our darkest moments but by our finest hours.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.