My children weren’t even born yet on that awful day in 2001. But, thanks to the news coverage, they get to relive those awful events with us every year. Thanks to their school commemorations tthey’ve learned words like “terrorist” and “bombing” and they’ve memorized the numbers of those downed flights.
One year, my 8 year old came home asking if the terrorists were from the town adjacent to ours and how could he build a barricade to keep them from destroying our neighborhood. Another time, my 6 year old asked why every comic strip in the newspaper said “Never Forget.” I told them people don’t want to forget the events of that day because we want to be forever vigilant against those who would harm us. But that is a whole lot different from remembering the fear of that day, because fear is how terrorists win.
If we’re to remember something, let it be the heroic actions of so many people who reached out to help their neighbors. From the ones who perished, to the ones who got up again the next morning and went back to work when all they really wanted to do was hide. From the ones who had to endure the agonizing loss of their loved one, to the person who had to step foot on an airplane again to see her family. Everyone lost something that day, and everyone who kept going was a hero.
My children have never known a time when airport security took 10 minutes, and we could say goodbye to Grandma & Grandpa at the runway. They’ve never seen the absence of the elevated security ticker on the news channel. They don’t know what the New York skyline used to look like. But they do know that every day we get up. We walk to school trusting that our neighborhood is safe. We believe in the kindness of strangers. We put our faith in a higher power, creating humanity for good and not evil. We choose joy over fear. That’s how we defeat the terrorists. That’s what we will never forget.