Ten years ago almost to the moment, I went in to my son’s room to make sure he was up for school. He was 10 and had just started 5th grade. This meant he’d just started embracing pre-teen practices; for example, a clock radio set to the local Colorado station whose DJs provided a continual flow of crass jokes and innuendo into young people’s waking brains.
“You better get out of bed, sweetheart,” I said. “You don’t want to be late.”
“Hey, Mom? An airplane just crashed into the World Trade Center,” said Jacob.
“Oh, son.” I said, and I remember sighing. “That’s not funny. You know I don’t like the things those DJs say, even as jokes.”
“It’s not a joke,” Jacob said.
The act of writing even this much brings a torrent of emotion from those moments and from what transpired in the next minutes, hours, days and decade.
What we’ve come to call 9/11, and the succeeding years of political cacophony and conflict, are a large part of the childhood history that shaped my son and his entire generation. Jacob is now in college, a grown man. And the president of this college, Michael Roth, has written THE most thoughtful piece I’ve seen anywhere as this country prepared for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Roth says, “Let us commemorate, if only for a few moments, without agenda.”
In just a few beautiful sentences, Roth describes the ways trauma has been and can be used to advance causes and shape the telling of history. And he calls on us to stop and simply remember, with piety.
Please read Roth’s September 9th blog. It will only take a few moments.
If the link above does not work, cut and paste this into your browser: http://roth.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2011/09/09/commemoration-without-agenda/?ref_homepage.
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