It’s hard to believe 12 years have passed since that dreadful day. None of our lives have been the same ever since, even in ways we don’t always recognize. It’s crazy to think that freshmen in high school were 2 or 3 years old when it happened – and in 12 more years freshmen will be learning about 9/11 in the same way I learned about another event that changed all of our lives forever, Pearl Harbor. And that is what I am afraid of.
I remember learning about the events of December 7, 1941 and feeling like I was so disconnected from them. I understood that it was a devastating event that culminated in our engaging WW2 but it was difficult to grasp the full magnitude of what happened. I tell my daughters stories. I believe it’s important for them to know who they are, what they are a part of, and where we are from. And perhaps there has not been a more defining moment than 9/11 in terms of things that have shaped the world they will grow up in. I have a responsibility to teach them about that day. But I recognize that my daughters risk never being able to truly grasp the magnitude of what happened when those towers fell because they just didn’t experience it. More than anything, I’m kind of afraid to tell my young, innocent daughters the details of that day because I’m afraid they won’t be able to handle it – but I don’t want to wait until they are 14 years old and the event is 25 years in the past because then it will seem like a history lesson on a page that they have no connection to. And if I water down the story so they can ‘understand’ it or in the name of protecting their innocence, I risk them missing out on feeling the weight of it – and that is the very thing that has changed us.
This is very similar to how I feel about the story of scripture. I want them to understand who they are, what they are a part of, and where we are from… but the pull to overlook and ignore the tragic and epic events that got us here is overwhelming. Will they ‘understand’ the creation, the fall, the flood, the weight of sin, the kingdom, the crucifixion, the resurrection…? No story is more important than this one – this is The Story that everyone lives in, many people just don’t know it. It is incumbent upon me to not wait until they are 14 years old to try to teach them these truths because I don’t want it to be a history lesson that they have no connection to. And if I water down the story so they can understand it, I risk them missing out on feeling the weight of it – and that is the very thing that changes us.
As parents I think we have the difficult challenge of embracing the stories that have defined us and passing them onto our children – so many kids grow up not knowing who they are, what they are a part of, or where they came from. Deuteronomy 6 explains this pretty well when God tells the Israelites how important it is to teach their children who He is, what He has done for them, and why they adhere to His words. “Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” Intentionally passing on the story of 9/11 in the context of The Story prevents each generation from thinking they are living in their own individual story. 9/11 is a monumental part of our kids story, even if they weren't born yet.
I believe the world belongs now to the current generation – and so what we do with it is entirely on us. If we don’t pass on the stories that defined us to the next generation, no one else will. Generations are not islands -- they are the next chapter in a story that has been going on since the beginning of time. Today, tell your kids about that dreadful day that changed us forever.