On 9/11 — Stop Telling Me Not to Forget

Of course we remember. Today and every day. Our country experienced a kind of collective PTSD. We struggled then – and now – for words, the appropriate response, how to tell our children, how to understand the unimaginable, the unbelievable, the unconscionable. It wasn’t just one day. It was that day and every day since then.

I appreciate the images on my Facebook feed. I do not appreciate the admonition to “Never forget.” As if we could.

But I hope my son can grow up in a country that is not under a cloud of fear. Do you remember bomb drills at school? I do – hiding, crouching under desks. Doorways marked “bomb shelter” (very scary signs). We lived with the constant fear of a nuclear bomb. God, what was that movie that came out in the 80s that scared all my classmates to death? Was it “The Day After”?

The fear we have now is more dispersed. It could happen anywhere. A mall. A movie theater. A marathon. At an elementary school. The bad guys could be terrorists from abroad or home grown. We are suspicious, on alert. We see soldiers on a flight and we exhale, certain that our flight will be safe at least from bad guys on a plane.

Remember what Mister Rogers said about bad guys? To look for the helpers. I want to focus on them.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

So today, I am going to try to relax. Exhale. Salute the helpers. Let go of Fear. Hug people. Look the scary people in the eye and smile. I will not forget what they did, but I will focus on how we responded. How we tried, how we stumbled. How we got up.

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