To the memories of those individuals murdered on September 11, 2001 and 2012. As an historian, dates in history matter, particularly those that have had a personal impact on my life. On December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my father as an enlisted man in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, found himself drawn into a war from which he never fully recovered. Guadalcanal, August 7, 1942 destroyed him as surely as if he had been shot. He never left the Corps or the war because of what occurred on those two days. September 11, 2001 also affected me in a very personal way.
I was just beginning my 1st period history class when my neighboring teacher came into my room and told me to turn on the TV. My students and I could not believe what we say. We silently watched the burning building, and people falling from the windows of the World Trade Center buildings, unable to fully grasp what was transpiring before us. Several minutes into this horrific event our supervisor from the Board of Education walked into the room and with a quaking voice told me not to spend too much time watching the news because we had to keep in step with the essential curriculum and could not lose too much time on what was happening in New York.
He left. Angry beyond belief, I did not, as I recollect, turn off the TV. How could I? People were dying in front of us. I have never forgotten that moment. I could not fathom how some asinine “new” program should take precedent over the horror transpiring before us. I am still angry over this.
I had students who served and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan . My former ROTC instructor died at the Pentagon. Flight 93 went down in a field close to the home of a good friend of mine. Surely, those who perished in the attacks and the first responders, both those who died and those who survived and are still dealing with the horrific tragedy of that day should remind us, whether we like it or not, that we are at war and we will be for a very long time.
September 11, 2001 and 2012, and December 7, 1941 are days that shall always “live in infamy.” They vividly remind us of the sad reality that History is written in the blood of those who preceded us. They remind us that those who died had names, and families who will remember them forever. So should we.