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Remembering 9/11
News Bytes 09/10/2021 33 Comments

Many years ago, a plane fell from the sky in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Today, Americans by the millions visit the Flight 93 National Memorial. They think of those who died in this vast field. It is a place that encourages the act of remembering. Tomorrow, amid the hustle of everyday living, Americans will pause to remember a day that changed the world.

Twenty years have passed since United Flight 93 made its final descent. Chaos unfolded aboard as Todd Beamer—husband, father, and Sunday School teacher—shouted “Let’s roll!” His words rallied a handful of others on board in an attempt to thwart the vicious attack. The Twin Towers and the Pentagon burned 300 miles to the east. Nearly one-fifth of the country is too young to remember that day firsthand. Still, together we remember.

Then as now, the September 11 attacks both united divided people. Some remembered God’s goodness and claimed His promises in the midst of human tragedy; some saw only evil. Americans, for a brief time however, saw one another as kindred, united in grief and shock.

From Genesis to Revelation, the word remember is found over 200 times. God asks His people to remember the way and words and deeds and name of the Lord. He also encourages remembering God’s leading in past events. “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 46:9)

Remembering is not just a state of mind. Those who beg us to remember the Holocaust have long insisted that remembering is an act, especially when loss and trauma are involved.

9/11 remembering appears in Ground Zero (the site of the former World Trade Center buildings) ceremonies, tribute walks, band concerts, moments of silence, and prayers, both public and private. It reveals itself in folk memorials like those raised along lonely roads to mark the sites of traffic deaths. Remembering is embedded in the names of places, like the road that leads to the Flight 93 memorial, the Lincoln Highway. It surfaces in those “where-were-you-when-this-happened moments” that stick with us—sometimes accurately, sometimes not.

Monuments and memorials like those at Shanksville, the National Mall, Birmingham, Pearl Harbor, and around the country evoke national memories and emotions.

“Monuments are history made visible. They are shrines that celebrate the ideals, achievements, and heroes that existed in one moment in time,” says historian Judith Dupre.

Yet while monuments stand immovable and unchanging, remembering itself evolves.

So what does remembering mean on a 20th anniversary—or at any point when an event like 9/11 starts to become history even though it still very much affects the present?

“Our present influences how we remember the past—sometimes in ways that are known and sometimes in ways that we don’t realize,” says psychology professor Jennifer Talarico. She studies how people form personal memories of public events.

Evidence of how the present affects memory is obvious in the events of the past six weeks in Afghanistan. The war waged there was in direct response to 9/11. It ended pretty much where it began: with the tyrannical and violent Taliban in charge.

“If we were still in Afghanistan and things were stable, we would be remembering 9/11 in probably a very different way than how we will remember it this year,” says Richard Cooper. He worked for the Department of Homeland Security for several years after the attacks.

On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, an entire generation has been born and come of age since the attacks. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been paying attention. They “remember” too, even if they weren’t around. Psychology professor Krystine Batcho says even those who lack actual living memories of 9/11 “remember” it as shared experience.

This shared event feels like yesterday, but it is also becoming part of history. And when memory becomes history, it can become more remote and hardened, like with a Revolutionary War memorial.

At the Flight 93 National Memorial, different kinds of remembering are clear. In the visitors’ center, artifacts of the moment still bring back the past distinctly: Twisted silverware from in-flight meals is particularly shocking. But yards away at the quiet overlook and its thoughtful memorial, remembering feels more permanent—and now, 20 years later, more symbolic of something that happened a generation ago.

Paul Murdoch, lead architect for the Shanksville memorial, says he carefully designed the site to touch multiple types of memory. Murdoch, who co-designed the memorial with his wife, Milena, didn’t want a memorial that “freezes anger in time or freezes fear.” He says, “I feel like for something to endure over a long period of time, I think it has to operate a different way.”

He wanted the Shanksville memorial to “talk to people of this new generation—or of future generations.”

Tomorrow, when a nation pauses to remember the horrible attack of September 11, 2001, it is not only looking over its shoulder. It is also looking around and wondering: What does this mean to us now?

Answers to that question are complex and likely unknowable this side of heaven. But on this day that 20 years ago upended the physical world, a truth more significant emerges: “In Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

(Kellen Savoy, center, helps present the colors as students raise the flag at William Lloyd Meador Elementary School in Willis, Texas, on September 11, 2013, to mark the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jason Fochtman/Conroe Courier via AP)

For more about the 9/11 attack and its reach into the present, read Seeking Justice 20 Years after 9/11.

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Most recent comments

this is mylee

!st comment !

this is mylee

I think what happened was horrid. But i'm glad we now have better security and stuff like that from what happened.

3rd Comment

what happened was horrible.
did you know, that how millenials are determined, id if you remember 9/11, and you are not Gen X, then you are a millenial

@Sarah F

What do you mean?

Is today Friday?

Is today Friday?

Oh wait yes it is.

Oh wait yes it is.


Yes what happened was very horrible. But their big plan did not succeed. America did not fall, and we put up even more security, not less like they had hoped. Go America!
@Sarah: I am not sure what you mean...

this is cool but

Where's the funny?



1) You are reading this

2) You are a human

3) You can't say P without shutting your lips

5) You just tried it

6) You are smiling

7) You didn't notice I skipped the 4th one

8) You are checking to see if there is a four

9) You didn't realize I skipped a two

10) You got tricked because there is two

11) You are going to copy/paste this to see who else falls for it.

@ Riley and Kiara

I was trying to say, 9/11 defined the generation we call millennials. And that if you were born after 1981-1994/6 you are a millennial, and therefore most likely remember 9/11


AMERICA!! (The true America)
In memoriam


HAPPY (no wait, sad) 9/11 DAY!

13th comment

That was sad, what happened. :(
My family watched this really long movie describing all about the events, and stuff like that. It was really neat.

@Jonathan M

You were wrong about 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11.

Oh boy

Did anyone else hear the disgusting comment George W Bush made today comparing January 6th to 9/11?


I didn't lose anyone in this attack, my family didn't lose anyone, but I still try to forgive these terrorists. They were mislead, and confused. They did something awful, but they have already paid for it hundreds of times, in hell. I want this generation to be one that doesn't attempt revenge on people who didn't do the thing you're mad about. What if these terrorists had kids? Does that mean the kids are already untrustworthy? Even though they haven't done anything? Walk a mile in their (hypothetical) kids shoes.

I know I most likely will get hate from this comment.


You won't get hate from me, but i would like to ask a question. Was it wrong for George W. Bush to send troops to Afghanistan? And if so why?
@Everyone have any of you heard the song Have You Forgotten by Darryl Worley? It's kinda about 9/11


I don't know. I'm sorry... I haven't learned much about it, so I just don't know what I think of it.

@ Caroline

That's ok, I was just wondering because it sounded to me like you thought the war should not have gone on this long, so i just wondered if you thought it would have been better to not even go to Afghanistan in the first place.

@ Caroline

That's ok, I was just wondering because it sounded to me like you thought the war should not have gone on this long, so i just wondered if you thought it would have been better to not even go to Afghanistan in the first place.


No, I don't hate you for it. why would I have any reason to hate you for it? I can totally see what you mean, but I want to add that even if we had lost someone we knew in the attack, if we were truly Christians, we would try to forgive them anyway, whether we lost someone or not. I agree with you on the fact that they are misled and didn't really know what they were getting themselves into. Normally, when someone does something, they are not doing it for no reason. They are doing it because they think they are doing what is right, or something good for the world. And you are right. God will judge them at some point. They will get their punishment. But I do think it was correct to send troops into Afghanistan. The reason for this is because of the fact that they don't all get judgement right away, so they don't realize that they are doing wrong, so we needed to send troops there as a way to protect our country against more attacks. God will judge them in the end, but until then, we needed to send troops to keep more things from happening. Just like the verse in the Ten Commandments says, "...punishing children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments..." God will give them judgement.


Sorry that was really long. :)


this sad event shook America and just about every American . i feel so bad for those who lost loved ones and friends in 9/11 and i hope they have been able to forgive those terrorists..


@Riley, I didn't think you would hate me, actually... I've talked to you a lot and you don't seem like that. It was mostly one person I was thinking of (I won't name names though)! :)

@Caroline N

Ok thanks! Yeah I have two people in mind, but I won't say names either. :)

@Caroline N

I don't hate you for it, I'm not a hateful person. But I do strongly disagree with you.
We should have done a bit more investigation before we started the attacks but they were necessary. You can't just "forgive and forget" when you are dealing with terrorists. As demonstrated by blm and antifa, they haven't been getting repercussions for their burning, looting, and murdering which has caused more violence and riots. If we hadn't gone to war with these terrorists the attacks would have gotten worse and more frequent.


If it was me who you were thinking would hate you feel free to name names. If you have a good explanation for your reasoning that is.

@Asher E

Ok, I'm with Caroline about forgiving the terrorists and with you about not forgetting the terrorists. I think you would be able to find common ground if you tried. I think both of you would agree that there's no use in being unforgiving. Forgiving someone does not mean that you trust them. It also does not necessarily mean that you forget about what happened. So, since you both claim to be Christians, I think you can agree that forgiving the terrorists is definitely something that should happen.
Second, I think that both of you can agree that the events of 9/11 should definitely not be forgotten. This does not mean that we are not forgiving. (I think "forgive and forget" is a silly saying, by the way.) We can learn from it. As the saying goes: "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."
Either I am very mistaken, or y'all can agree on both of these things and not argue. :)


@Asher- no I haven't seen that. I'm not surprised tho. Have you seen the stuff about Milley and China??

Oh also

Caroline, after re-reading your comment, I have a question. Do you mean that we should not have entered into a war with the terrorists?

@Asher and Addie,

I think we should forgive, just not forget. I'm not saying we should forget this ever happened. We shouldn't forget history. I feel that the war in Afghanistan wasn't just for revenge, it was to protect the people who aren't a part of the terrorist groups. So while I wish that wars didn't happen, and we didn't NEED to protect people (because they weren't in danger in the first place), I think that the war in Afghanistan was good. Not that wars can be good, just that we were trying to protect people.
P.S. I don't know much about the war in Afghanistan, so I may have put some weird/confusing stuff in my comment. Sorry in advance.

@Caroline, Addie, & Asher

I may not have made it clear in my comment either, but I am also for forgiving and not forgetting. As I said in different words, we had to send troops to Afghanistan to protect ourselves and to help the other Afghan people. I agree that wars are sad and hurtful, but sometimes they are necessary. I feel like pretty much any war that the US has been has been necessary. (The ones I can think of and remember, that is)
@Asher: No, you name was not on my list. :) I know from past experiences that you try to say what you have to say in a nice way, and that you don't go around attacking people. You always have good reason behind your comments.
@Addie: I disagree about "Forgive and forget" being a silly saying. For some things, like 9/11, it is something that just won't work. But if it something like you had an argument with a sibling, or you punched someone in the nose (I don't think you would do that, but just giving it as an example...) or especially in God's case, the forgetting is really important. God forgives us, and then forgets the things we have done wrong and gives us a new start. So I do not think that "Forgive and Forget" is silly at all.


@Caro- Yeah, I think you and Asher probably agree on the forgiving and not forgetting and (possibly) disagree on the motives of the war. BUT. You both agree on what you were discussing earlier. So that's cool.
@Riley- I stand corrected. XD Yes, a sibling fight is probably a good thing to forget in terms of never speaking of it again. Learn from it then forget it. But yes, this is an instance where Forgive and Forget does not work.

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