Sitting down on the curb yesterday, Oldest Kidlet (now a fourth grader) looked over at me. “Tomorrow’s Patriot Day, Mom. I need to wear red, white or blue.” He paused. “Because it’s 9/11,” he explained, though he knew I knew.
He wasn’t around when it happened. But he knows. Probably more than most kids his age – his interest in skyscrapers led him down a YouTube wormhole he wasn’t quite ready for. He knows statistics, he knows what was destroyed, but it’s hard to get him to really conceive what the loss was like. Or to get him to understand that half the videos out there are filled with conspiracy theories or propaganda.
And I cringe. I remember that day vividly, and it isn’t that I don’t want to stand with my country – but while I pride the fact that the nation came together, I can’t forget the wave of Islamophobia that swept the country. It still grips our country. People who were hurt or killed simply because they were brown. Not all were Muslim, either. Or from the Middle East.
It’s hard not to feel the loss of life without feeling anger that these people’s lives and our collective loss were used by politicians to further their own agenda. That in doing so we’ve unraveled things in the Middle East for the worse.
Make no mistake- I will never forget the magnitude of the loss. I won’t forget the numbness, how surreal it was to be back at work at Disneyland right after (Disneyland closed on 9/11 – one of the few days in its entire history it was closed). I will remember the lives lost, and feel for those who’ve lost love ones. I will think of the responders and survivors who are ill because they survived that day and were exposed to carcinogens.
I just can’t bring myself to remember the day by wearing a flag shirt. I’d rather take the day for reflection and quiet remembrance, rather than be told how to remember that day.
But I made sure the Kidlets wore flag colors. It might not be important to me, but I’ll let them pick how they want to honor it. After all, I don’t know what it’s like for it to be history instead of a memory.
(I also want to say Happy Birthday to everyone with a Sept 11th birthday. I share a birthday with the Challenger Explosion, and while it pales in comparison, it’s hard to celebrate your birthday when the news is constantly talking about devastation and loss. You are worth celebrating, trust me.)