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Have you forgotten?

POSTED September 4, 2009 11:27 p.m.
Even without movies like “Pearl Harbor” and “Saving Private Ryan,” I know that on Dec. 7, 1941 — “a date which will live in infamy” — the Japanese pulled off a massive attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that decimated the United States’ Pacific fleet and pulled America into WW II as a full combatant. I also know that June 6, 1944 — D-Day —  was the day that U.S. soldiers, along with the Allied forces, invaded the beaches of Normandy, France, and turned the tide of WW II.
Both of these historic and life-changing events happened over 60 years ago, yet there continue to be memorial celebrations and commemorative statues, walls, movies, documentaries and works of art of all kinds honoring these days. So why is it that many Americans have already forgotten what happened a mere eight years ago?
The way I look at the world was forever changed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I remember vividly every thought and emotion I had that day while watching terrorists attack my country live and in color on television. A portion of the anger and sadness I felt on that terrible day was renewed this week after our new education reporter, Maegan Martens, relayed to me a conversation she had with a local school office assistant.
In preparation for the upcoming anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93, I had Maegan call every school in Turlock and ask if they are planning a special program for that day. I was disappointed, but not surprised when she said that none of the schools, except for Mountain View Middle School, were doing anything to remember the fallen firefighters, police officers, volunteer emergency workers or U.S. citizens who lost their lives at Ground Zero, rural Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. I was shocked, however, when I heard that one school office assistant didn’t even know what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
“What’s so special about Sept. 11?” the woman answering the phone a local elementary school asked when Maegan inquired about any upcoming special programs to remember that day.
Wow.
I know that history is not as emphasized in U.S. schools as it is in European classrooms, but I would think that every adult person in America would know what event triggered America’s obsession with security and the two wars we are currently fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I’m not sure eight years ago even counts as history. Maybe I should be lamenting this school secretary’s lack of current events knowledge, which is even more puzzling. This woman would have had to be locked in a sensory deprivation chamber to not have been exposed to the almost year-long 24 hours a day, seven days a week media coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks.
It took dozens of psychologists issuing warnings of the negative effects that the graphic images of the planes flying into the towers were having on our children to get them off our TVs.
Not since the assassination of President John Kennedy, has a generation been collectively able to say, “On the day that (the life-changing event) happened, I was ...”
In the face of so much apathy for our nation’s history and/or current events, I commend the administration, staff and students of Mountain View Middle School for deciding to remember. These are the students I hope will grow up to lead our country into the future.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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