Remember 9/11 appropriately

By Genevieve Adams

An administrator came into our classroom and whispered to my fifth-grade teacher. Her eyes went to the floor and then to us. Not soon after, the loud speaker boomed with names; children being called to the office to be picked up by their parents. Then I heard mine.

Parents barged through the doors of my elementary school. My mom took me by the hand and stuck me in the car. Not soon after I heard her on the phone with my dad who works in D.C. for the government — he was OK.

I grew up in a suburb of Washington D.C.; my elementary school was only 5 miles away from the Pentagon. And although I didn’t tell you my whole account of Sept. 11, 2001, I can assure you it was terrifying, especially for a fifth grader.

I was so close I could smell smoke. I could see worried spouses. I went to school with kids whose lives changed in a matter of seconds.

I was too young to realize what was actually happening to our world, to our country. Looking back I can’t believe the gravity of the situation, the beginning of this war that our generation is now living. And to see how far this war on terrorism has come since that day is astounding.

However, what really amazes me is how people have come to think of 9/11 today. That is, as a day to wrap oneself up in an American flag and chug a Budweiser in the name of U.S.A.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in patriotism. I believe that 9/11 should be remembered and those who died should be honored. But when did “honoring” become partying? This day is not so far into our past that those who lost their lives aren’t still loved by their children or missed by their friends.

It was a horrific day in American history. Innocent people were the victims of war crimes and our national security was forever changed. When 9/11 happened, war happened. It was the beginning to this era, this state in which we are currently living. And although it may be in our history books now, in my opinion, after no amount of time, especially in our generation’s youth, will it be in good taste to think of this day as a drinking occasion.

For the past few years I’ve been biting my tongue and making excuses to not go out on Sept. 11. Something at my core doesn’t feel right about celebrating when people could be mourning a somber anniversary. There’s something I find eerie about keg stands and American-themed parties on a day that so many remember as tragic and irreversibly damaging.

I don’t mean to put a damper on your day. Or even make you feel bad if you’ve attended one of these get-togethers in the past. I just think it should be remembered as the turning point in our history that it is. Because sometimes students forget that outside of this UK bubble, there are people memorializing in beautiful and meaningful ways: an American flag toga not required.

Genevieve Adams is a journalism senior. Email her at

Poignant & thoughtful article Ms. Adams — as someone who now lives in NYC in sight of the new memorial (and its rising towers) it is imperative that people not only recall & remember 9/11 with respect and solemnity, but that generations of kids even younger than you (i.e. below the 5th grade at the time or not even born yet) are taught the significance, importance, and devastating sadness the day signifies.

We don’t “celebrate” the day Pearl Harbor was bombed because we knew it was a day of ‘infamy’ and lives lost….we mourn. We don’t “celebrate” the day JFK was shot and killed, no matter what political party you affiliate with….we mourn. We should do the same on September the 11th – mourn and pay respects (quietly) or with friends, in a subdued manner, to the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost.

Thanks for this excellent article!

A very honest and thought provoking article. It is rather sickening that people will use this as an opportunity to act out rather than simply reflect and remember, to give the victims and their families the dignity that they deserve. A friend of mine felt the same way about the Titanic when the movie came out, a tragedy that has been merchandised to the point of nausea.

Excellent point. This is a time to remember those who perished and reflect on our responsbilities as citizens in a free country

This is one of the best, most mature editorials I have ever read regarding how to remember 9/11. I have been worried that it has been turning too much into a celebration of war prowess rather than a memorial to lives lost. Thank you for writing it.