Hanging the Flag

This morning as I hung the flag in honor of 9/11, I didn’t think about that day 12 years ago.  For some reason, I thought about Pearl Harbor.

I don’t hang the flag out on Pearl Harbor Day.  I’m not even sure when it is, to be honest.

I bet my parents know because I bet their parents would not let them forget . . . but my parents weren’t alive on that day.  They remember because it was so important to their parents, but the hurt and horror of Pearl Harbor meant nothing to them personally.  When it came time to explain it to me, they couldn’t because they didn’t know themselves.

How do I explain to my children how frightening the week of 9/11 was.  We didn’t know what would happen.  We didn’t know what was coming next.  We didn’t know who the real enemy was.  I sat on the couch with my Bible open to the Psalms and prayed that the worst had already happened.

Yet look at us today.  We are critical of the government’s actions in the years that followed.  We felt dragged into a long war that turned out to have little to do with it.  We scream and yell because the government has the ability to observe our library book selections (and really why do they need to know?).  We resent the TSA (which deserves criticism) because we have to go to the airport too early and it makes us feel violated and we don’t like them rifling through our stuff.

We forget we didn’t go anywhere for months because we were afraid.

For me Independence Day is a time to roast hot dogs and ride in the boat.  I don’t think that much about it, but in 1776 I would have thought about it a lot.  I would have remembered my friends, neighbors and families who had sacrificed everything for freedom from a king.

Generations of time change perspective.  It’s still my job to teach my children what happened on 9/11 and how I felt, but I’m wondering today if it’s also my job to help my children recognize that these other days — that we think so little about — also had powerful feelings attached.

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