May we never forget to remember


Gracie Wilson

The AU community pays their respects to all who were lost on September 11, 2001.


Maybe I don’t have a lot of room to talk because I was only a year and a half old. Maybe it doesn’t matter what I say since I don’t actually remember anything about that day. Or, maybe four simple words make it mean something to me. “May we never forget.” We hear it every year, and we should continue to hear it for years to come. Even though I wasn’t old enough to remember that day, I still remember alongside my fellow citizens. September 11, 2001. The day that shook the nation to its core and made a society always in motion stop right in their tracks. 

I have been told that I was only a baby being fed breakfast while my dad turned on the TV to watch the morning news when an unimaginable headline was taking over the screen. A local fireman watching other men and women who share in his career run in to save the people of their city without hesitation. My mom, teaching a room full of first graders upon hearing the news and having to handle delivering the message gently while in shock herself. Then my sister, only four years old but smart enough to know that something had happened to upset the adults in the room. The magnitude of the situation slowly shaking one family and all the other families across the nation at the same time. 

What still makes me pause in my tracks every September 11 is the fact that all of those people probably left their house that morning with the same certainty that they would return home the very same way they had each day before that. People got out of bed and fed their babies, made a cup of coffee, took the subway and arrived at work for what they did not know would be the last time. The passengers aboard the planes likely had the same certainty: they would arrive at their destination without issue. We take for granted that same certainty upon waking up each day. That was theirs too; and then it wasn’t. I stop in my tracks and think about it every year and pray that this year everyone else will not forget to remember too. 

It almost seems like talking about COVID-19 or the 2020 election is the prerequisite for being newsworthy these days, but what we need to realize is that there are still other things going on in the world; namely stopping and paying respect to thousands of people who died on what was going to just be an average Tuesday in September. I hope that in the midst of everything that has happened this year, all of the division we have faced as a nation, that we can still stop and remember or think about what that day was like, even if we do not know first-hand. People are still hurting, and it is important that we stop and pay respect alongside our fellow man and know that for just one day we are focused on the same thing.

It’s sad to think that such a drastic tragedy is something that brought our nation together, I mean, why can’t we just come together on a day where everything is normal and people are going about their typical day? Why does it take a tragedy for people to unite under one cause? It’s almost a weird thing to find a silver lining in the midst of this tragedy, even 19 years later. However, there is one in this case and I think we could all use a reminder of it…unity. Can’t we as a nation, even if just for one day, be united under the same cause. The cause of remembrance for those who left home one last time without even knowing it. 

I hadn’t really considered this remembrance much until I visited New York City myself when I was a Sophomore in high school. When we were in school, we would do a moment of silence and sometimes the teacher had something to say about that day, but then that would be all. I never really learned much about September 11th, 2001 until I went to New York with my family and learned for myself. We visited the museum and I was shocked into silence as we made our way through. Learning about firsthand experiences of that day, hearing from loved ones of the deceased and seeing items pulled from the aftermath. I felt like crying even though it wasn’t something I had seen first hand and barely even lived through. The feeling of knowing however, knowing that this is something that deeply pained so many close to me and so many of my fellow American citizens, that is what almost brought me to tears as we stood in what was the foundation of the world trade center twin towers.

So maybe it does matter that I –and all others who were not around– also stop to take part in remembering this day. Isn’t that how we keep a legacy of remembering alive? We keep it alive by learning, and then honoring once we have the knowledge of what tragedy took from the American people on that day. Even though I, and many others who I am close to, were only small children at the time, we see and remember the hurt of the people who were directly affected, and we stand with them. May we never forget, because if we do, then so will the world. May we never forget because if we do, those we lost do not get honored as they should, whether they were bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time or first responders who charged into the fire. May we never forget, because if we do, who will remember those who fought so bravely whether that’s in an office, on a firetruck, in the hospitals or on a plane?

May we know that these people will be remembered, those who were found and those who remain lost. May they not get lost in the fray of all the news that has so forcefully taken our attention to disease and politics. For just one day, even if it’s the only day of the year, may we all come together and not forget to remember September 11th, 2001.