In 2001, September 11 was considered the great tragedy of the modern world. And so it remained right up until 2020.
The 9/11 story has to remain a part of our curriculum, although it pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US, and the millions worldwide, this year.
There’s a significant difference. The deaths of Covid destroyed families and ways of life, but not physical things. September 11 destroyed the neighbourhood around the twin towers. It engendered the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The upscaling of the US military. Years of anti-Iraq propaganda which led to general anti-Muslim hysteria and bigotry.
American kids assume that the hero worship and veneration of the military that they’ve grown up with are normal. They actually are outgrowths of the buildup of popular military support in the run-up to a war that went on for years.
Towns and cities nationwide have had generations of statues and memorials for military heroes. It was not until 2020 that the heroism of healthcare workers has been recognized and applauded to at least the same degree. It’s time they, as well, are venerated with statues.
Just a few blocks away from the National September 11 Memorial is Fraunces Tavern. It was there that General Washington held a farewell dinner after the Revolution as the military was disbanded. America therefore has gone from a nation that got rid of its military after war, to one that keeps a strong military.
Kids need to have this historical context to make sense of their lives up until this point. And to go forward, soon taking their places as adults in United States culture, and changing the culture by voting at each election.
So yes, New York City tourguides will keep bringing middle- and high-school students to the memorial, and giving them all this necessary background.