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Looking Forward


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By Francisco Tirado



“IU Remembers 9/11” is the subject line of an email that IU students received.  

It is also the title of an event to commemorate the lives we lost on a day that cannot efficiently be described with any adjective.

The word “remember,” when taken literally, may not be something that adequately describes the emotions of many students of my generation, and it gets more complicated the younger you are.

Do you remember where you were when the 9/11 attacks happened?

Is this something that many young minds can effectively pinpoint?

I was in fifth grade, and I climbed out of bed to watch morning cartoons before school only to be sorely disappointed when every channel was taken over by news coverage of burning buildings I neither knew nor recognized.

I watched them until my mom woke up. When she did, it was just gasps and speechlessness, and even then, I did not understand.

It was only as I grew older that I felt the magnitude of what had
happened.

The image of my fifth-grade teacher trying to explain to a classroom of eleven-year-olds the concept of terrorism encapsulates my relationship with that day.
When those of younger generations look back at that Tuesday, their "remembrance” of it is distant.

We were kids forced to become adults, forced to accept and process a tragedy many of us could hardly relate to.  

Maybe some of us were sad. Maybe some of us cried. My sister’s birthday party at the McDonald’s at the mall was canceled that day, and I know that was not an easy passing.

The bitter aftermath of it is that the weight of the nation and the suffering of those who experienced a loss firsthand was carried by every elementary schooler who didn’t have to go to class that day.

Parents everywhere sat their kids down in the living room to explain that war was upon us. That bad people existed across oceans. That so-and-so lost an aunt or a cousin in NYC , Washington, D.C. or Pennsylvania because of these attacks.

But as kids, we didn’t understand it fully. All we had in our power was to look at it as a child and think vaguely, “America will get through this one.”

That is how we must look at 9/11 now, simply and strongly. We’ve overreached boundaries and surpassed this grief with such grace and resilience that it’s almost as if we didn’t understand it.

We did, though. We just chose to think of this as another bump in the road without belittling the day. With silence and “remembrance,” we choose to look forward.

­— ftirado@indiana.edu

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