The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD – September 11th – Do You Even Remember?

I will never forget waking up on September 11th, 2001. I will never forget the phone call from my girlfriend at the time, and trying to grasp what she was saying so early in the morning. I will never forget turning on the television just seconds before the 2nd plane went through the 2nd tower. I will never forget calling my parents to make sure that my family – aunt, uncle, cousins, – and family friends were okay. I will never forget hearing that my dad had lost a good friend – head of security for the World Trade Center. I will never forget Professor Steele holding class for mere minutes, only to explain to us what his experiences had been during previous world catastrophes, and then letting us go.

I will never remember Kennedy or King or Till being assassinated, or the Vietnam War, or the beginning of the Gulf War or Desert Storm. I will never remember those events because I was either not alive, or far too young to truly process what had happened.

Each September 11th I ask my students if they understand the importance of the day, and as we move farther from 2001, I get more and more students who cannot remember why that date is important, or who simply don’t care. It’s not because they are “too cool” to care, it’s that it simply doesn’t matter to their generation. It’s my generation’s Gulf War. I was too young, and in all honesty, it holds no real meaning in my world. I can read about it all I want, but that doesn’t mean I actually “get it” or “care” about it.

My question of the day is this:

As we move beyond the catastrophic events of previous generations, how should we teach the new generations about them? What is the best way to learn about the historical relevance of these moments?

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

12 comments on “QOTD – September 11th – Do You Even Remember?

  1. Dryad
    September 11, 2013

    By teaching them compassion, and helping them to remember that things like this happen DAILY in parts of the world they know nothing about, and that it’s not worse just because it happened to “us”–just personally scarier. By not using it as an excuse for ugly nationalism or fear-mongering. (In case it’s not clear–still working on first cup of coffee–I am NOT accusing you of this; just observing that the event has been used shamefully to that effect since it happened.)

  2. Thane Poole
    September 11, 2013

    Explain the importance of these events so that future generations understand the importance of them. A good way that we can teach the younger generations by having them put on a play depicting the horrific events of the days. We can also show them news footage about the event.

  3. kiwiskan
    September 11, 2013

    how could we forget…

  4. Arianna Burleson
    September 11, 2013

    there is no way any one could forget that tragic day for millions for people. we can only move forward and remember those who gave there lives to save people like us. just take a second and really sink in and remember all those people , and i thank those people for being so brave that day. Do you think you could be that brave when it comes to something like this?

  5. Luba Vorobyeva
    September 11, 2013

    There are bad people in the world, you can expact anything and you have to take good out of it not the bad. Those events can help you get stronger and you learn from them.

  6. Robert Long
    September 11, 2013

    We can’t let the memory of those we’ve lost fade away. Or else they truly do die. Sure the families of the loved ones will remember them, but when they die, their children won’t have any memory of them. Only what they have heard from others “He/She died in the 9/11 attack.”.

    The best way to remember them would be to keep the tradition of remembering them on this day. Keep teaching our children about what happened in the past.

  7. Hunter Sheets
    September 11, 2013

    It is not teaching about the tragic events in history that is the problem, but remembering and preparing for them, 9/11 was just one of many events that has scarred mankind’s memory, but there are many more to come.

    On the topic of what i remember of 9/11 i remember nothing about it in particular, i know what happened and how, but not what i was doing when it happened. I was too young to comprehend what happened, but seeing the ignorance in the current generation (those who have no clue what 9/11 means) is what cuts the deepest for me. this is not an event that happened in the past 50 years, this is still within two decades and is still a fresh event.

  8. Denis fadin
    September 12, 2013

    I think the best ways to teach these events is, through movies, or texts books.

    • Christopher Margolin
      September 12, 2013

      Do you really believe that moves and text books are true to the actual events of the time? Isn’t there a difference between experienced history and learned history?

  9. Samantha Keeland
    September 12, 2013

    I don’t remember that day

  10. Bailey Edman
    September 16, 2013

    The best way to teach future generations about 9/11 or any day in relevance to what makes society the way it is now, is to continue to talk about them in school. Being educated on the importance of these days is the best way to give your knowledge to others. Only one of my teachers talked about 9/11 this year and it is sad that this day is being forgotten. We need to be educated on this day in order to teach others about it.

  11. Pingback: If I Could Turn Back Time | Stories in 5 Minutes

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