This week was the anniversary of the biggest attack on our country; second only to Pearl Harbor, the 9-11 plane attacks tore at the soul of every American, and indeed, many of our allies, as well. People all around the world sympathized with us, as we began the long recovery of learning to live without loved ones. Others had to learn to live with ongoing health issues. I just read an article that said that more people have died since then, mostly first-responders, than died on that day, of cancers brought about by the inhalation of the omni-present dust and dirt particles, and the fuels, that covered the area. And those of us who lived far away and didn't know anyone personally, who was there, had to learn to live with a loss of innocence. We are not inviolable...we can be hurt. And countless changes have occurred to try to ensure that no one can ever catch us off-guard as we were that day.
But I sub in high schools. This week was the 17th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Most of the kids in the school weren't even born when it happened. So to them, it's just more history they are expected to learn. They don't have any memories of what they were doing, or where they were, when it happened.
I was born long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, though many of my uncles were in the army during WWII, including one who was a part of the Bataan Death March.To me, December 7, as it was described on the radio programs I heard in history class, is a "day that will live in infamy." But will it? I often ask students on December 7th, what is important about the date. Most have no idea. So that means, what? Three generations down, infamy has become ignorance? Or has been forgotten?
I don't really remember when President Kennedy was shot, because there was no internet yet, and no TV in classrooms back then. My parents were upset, but had more important (to them) things to worry about, like would Dad's paychecks cover our bills for another month. I remember when President Reagan was shot, but not where I was at the time. I remember sobbing in the living room of my second post-college apartment, when John Lennon was shot, because I'd grown up adoring the Beatles, and their music was a part of the soundtrack of my young life. And John had grown so much by then, into the loving human being he wanted to be. It seemed so unfair that he would be cut down just when he had achieved peace...finally.
I remember calling on a client in my sales job, when he was watching a tiny four-inch TV on his desk, playing and replaying the Challenger explosion. So I knew about that instantly. And I was in charge of all of the Girl Scout troops at my daughter's school, and I was running the initial meeting of the year in my house, where I had to arm-twist all of the other leaders to volunteer to run essential programs, when one of them got a cell phone call and she made me turn on my TV. We watched in horror as the airplanes hit the first tower in New York. One of the leaders, who was married to a man of Middle Eastern descent, softly prayed for it not to have been done by anyone from the Middle East, since her husband was always traveling on business, and she wanted him to come home safely.
So for me, 9-11 is a visceral memory. But for my kids, even through they were all alive, and my oldest was thirteen...not so much. And today's high school kids have no personal memory at all, of why we have such a hassle with the TSA when we fly...or why we will soon need to have U.S. Passports even to fly on domestic flights.
How long does a country's memory last? Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. If this is indeed so, we are in big trouble! For all of the instant information all of us have available at our fingertips at all times, on our phones and other devices, many people don't seem to care about what is happening NOW, let alone what happened many years ago.
I don't expect that my books will become a part of history. I hope that my books will be read, but will they survive the passage of time? Tastes change, and people read what interests them. I can only hope that readers of today, if not tomorrow, will take a chance on my romances, and discover the heart I put into each of them.
By the way, humorous anecdote. My husband's brother is a professor at a college out east. He just published another book in his field. My mother-in-law, who says she doesn't read the kind of stuff I write, and who has said that if I wrote a history book, she'd read it, just told me I should read his book because, "It's so good." I told her that I'd read it when he reads one of mine. She made a face and explained that as an important professor, indeed, the chair of his department, he certainly doesn't have time for that. Sigh...I miss my late mom. She'd have loved my books!
Find out what Mom would have loved at: http://www.fionamcgier.com.