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9/11 Holds Little Meaning for Teenagers

For many teenagers, the terrorist attack on the United States of Sept. 11, 2001 is just another bit of history, like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941 or the Lewis and Clark expedition. It often happens that events that traumatize the country lose their power to horrify over the course of time. For example, Memorial Day--originally called Decoration Day--was instituted for the purpose of having people put flowers on the graves of soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was later expanded to honor all American soliders who died in a war. But in practice, it is more like National Picnic Day, with its former military significance largely forgotten. But Sept. 11 seems to have been downgraded faster than other traumatic events.

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I wonder if it's because there was so much media coverage surrounding the September 11th terrorist attacks, with instant access to pictures, video, testimonials, etc., whereas events of the past were largely recounted through stories and tradition.

I think I'm glad for that. The power that 9/11 had over this country was twisted and badly misused, and on balance has done us so much more harm than good. I see it losing emotional power and hope that can help us along in the process of undoing the tragedy we wrought on ourselves in its wake.

But Sept. 11 seems to have been downgraded faster than other traumatic events.

I'd be interested to see how they arrived at that perception. I think for people who have a clear memory of it, it's still as sharp and will be for a long time to come.

I think of my mother's reaction to Pearl Harbor day, which happened when she was a school child versus her eldest brother's reaction (my uncle was 16 at the time.) Till the end of his life, his reaction was visceral and pained.

In a way, I think it's a good thing that future generations are not burdened with the grief of their elders. They will have griefs of their own to come to grips with.

(For the record, although it's not a national tragedy, for my money the fastest slide towards from serious commemoration to another day off from work: Martin Luther King's Birthday. Sad.)

MLK Day was ever taken seriously by the country at large? There are still lots of companies which don't take the day off, never mind any kind of commemoration. Seems to me very few people ever actually cared about it.

The first couple of years, the big phrase was, "It's a day on, not a day off." A lot of companies, schools and municipal entities (at least the ones I was familiar with) encouraged people to use the day as a day ofcommunity service, volunteerism, and religious/spiritual observation.

Within a couple of years it seemed to become just another day off (which is pretty much what I predicted would happen back in 198X when it was implemented in NJ.)

That doesn't surprise me too much. These kids were only 8 or 9 when it happened and there's a lot you don't understand at that age. Besides, this article is about kids in Indiana who may have never been to New York City and probably had no idea what the World Trade Center was before it was destroyed.

I'd have to say that 9/11 holds little meaning for many adults as well. I know you are there at the epicenter, that 9/11 was personally meaningful to you. But for those people who don't live in New York City, the surrounding area, Boston, or DC, 9/11 was something that "happened to other people". We don't have any visceral emotional connection to it. We weren't personally involved, inconvenienced, or even have really close ties to those who were. So for us, it is emotionally remote, as far away as Vietnam or Korea or WWII. For you, and for millions of others in NY and the surrounding area, it resonates. For those of us outside that proximity, it just doesn't.

Think of how many more people have been killed in Iraq, and how Americans as a whole just don't care.

Actually, I'm OK with that. Just like terrorism in Israel never really affected Americans in general (but it affected me because I have family there) and civil war in Ethiopia meant very little to Americans except there's now this new country, Eritrea.

What gets me is the people who didn't/don't live anywhere near the northeast, have no family/friends in the area, and yet are traumatized. It's not for me to say who should be traumatized by what, but it seems very odd for people to be hair-trigger and convulsive about something that may as well have happened halfway across the world....I just don't grok it.

But yeah, on Friday I was thinking "high school seniors probably remembering going home; someone in the 6th grade was 3 years old at the time."

I too would like to see how the conclusion came about.

With so many horrible days of destruction in the calendar, does one really need to get all excited about them? I can do without the wailing and justification for yet more violence.

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