As I drove my son to preschool this morning, I happened to hear a local DJ refer to the fact that one of the co-hosts is 23 years old. After I recovered from the shock of realizing that this woman was FOUR when those 9/11 happened, it got me thinking.
There are teens and young adults today who were either too young to remember, or hadn’t even been born when we were attacked on that awful day. Now, so many years removed, our task has changed. We’re not only responsible for honoring what happened; we’re responsible for ensuring our kids know about it and never forget.
Today, large swathes of the country find it offensive to support the police and love our country—flaws and all. Today, just 19 years later, we’ve gone from store shelves wiped clean of American flags (because there were so many people who wanted to fly one after 9/11), to rioters chanting “death to America” over the FALSE and offensive narrative that black Americans are being hunted in the streets likes prey by our police; by the same men and women who would run into a burning tower again TODAY without giving their own safety a second thought.
After 9/11, pieces of the towers were shipped to towns all over the country to set up memorials. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey received 1,300+ requests for artifacts—and the tiny little town of Rockville, MN was chosen. In fact, Rockville got one of the very last pieces.
It’s not far from where I live—and recently we stopped to see it.
When you touch it, it’s otherworldly. Knowing where that was; knowing what it went through—wondering what horrors the people behind those walls experienced. Feeling the burned, twisted and rusted steel; feeling how hard it is and how horribly heavy it must be. It was surreal. There are jagged edges—almost like teeth—along its sides. Those edges are from the pieces cut out to give to families of the victims.
My daughter, my very young daughter, is incredibly inquisitive—and instantly wanted to know why a rather ugly piece of metal hoisted up on granite was such a big deal to me. I explained, in as delicate a way possible, what happened and why we need to remember. She’s young, but I didn’t shy away from telling her that 9/11 happened because terrorists who hated this country did very bad things to those places. Fast forward a week to this morning, as that unforgettable footage of the burning towers was splashed across the morning news. “Mommy!” she said, having just realized something, “Isn’t that what we saw??” (referring to the twisted hunk of metal we visited days prior).
I couldn’t have been prouder.
I didn’t realize it when I explained 9/11 to my daughter a week ago that I had cemented that concept in her mind. I took care not to scare her, but she KNOWS now. She knows what Patriot Day is. She knows what those terrorists did. She knows that countless police officers, fire firefighters and EMTs ran TOWARDS the danger—not away. “Mommy, did they die?” she asked hesitantly. Her face sank a little when I told her that so many of them did. She was momentarily sad, but her face lit up again when she remembered that she’s safe—because the police protect us. Those are her words, not mine. “She’ll get the bad guys,” she says of a relative on the police force.
If I told her police were gutless pigs out to target her because she’s mixed race, she’d live in fear. She’d grow up dreading the day she’d get pulled over. She’d grow up fearing for her life every time she saw lights and heard sirens.
That. Is. Taught.
So parents, we have a job. We can no longer rely on our society to train up our children to love this country. We can no longer rely on our society to teach our children that terrorists are bad. We can no longer rely on our society to teach our children to honor and respect our brave men and women in uniform. We can no longer rely on our society to keep the memory of 9/11 alive for our children and their children.
That’s our job. It’s our job to raise our children draped in love of country and respect for our police. It’s our job to honor the memory of those brave heroes who ran TOWARDS danger; who ran up the towers, into the Pentagon, and to the cockpit of a hijacked plane over Pennsylvania.
Parents, get to it. We have a country to preserve; we face a different enemy today. With the utmost respect to the lives lost, and in the full knowledge that I’m quoting one of the bravest among them, let’s roll.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com. She occasionally contributes to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston, and on Newsmax TV. She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.