Keep on teaching the lessons from 9/11

A generation has grown up since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. Children born that fall are in or approaching their senior years of high school. They never knew a world without Homeland Security, airport screening on the lookout for shoe bombers, or a New York City skyline featuring one Freedom Tower, rather than those iconic Twin Towers.

They also do not remember the America that emerged during those first months after the attacks. They do not remember the flag-lined streets, the renewed determination to stand as one, to cherish the differences that make us stronger and to double down on the freedoms that make us great. We remembered — because they told us — why terrorists, tyrants and despots despise us. They hated what the U.S. stood for so much they hoped to scare us away from such ideals by killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring another 6,000 that day.

Those young people might not know that for a few days, in the aftermath of the attacks, hate crimes increased against those perceived as being Muslim or even simply looking as though they were Middle Eastern; or that former President George W. Bush denounced such a response. That initial reaction by a few was followed by a tidal wave of compassion and acts of kindness by many.

Teach them. Show them the sleeping giant awakened by the tragedy of Sept. 11 was not in our military response. It was an awakening to what made us the UNITED States of America.

A three-hour drive from here leads to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. The new Tower of Voices honors the passenger and crew of that flight, who banded together to fight back. Take them to see it. Show them what true courage, true love of country means.

“They allowed us to survive as a country that could fight terror and still maintain liberty and still welcome people from all over the world from every religion and race and culture as long as they shared our values, because ordinary people given no time at all to decide did the right thing.”

–former President Bill Clinton, in 2011

“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”

–Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, in 2002

Teach them.