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On 9/11, "Never Forget" Is More Important Than Ever

Hunter Holland |
September 13, 2015 | 2:47 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

9/11 Memorial in New York City (John St. John/Creative Commons)
9/11 Memorial in New York City (John St. John/Creative Commons)

As a freshman at USC two years ago, I was shocked when, on September 11th, not a single person I encountered throughout my day acknowledged the tragic events that devastated our country twelve years earlier. I'm originally from Long Island, a place where everyone including all of my first grade classmates has a story about this horrible day. Back home, there isn't a single person who wasn't directly or indirectly affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center, and their anniversary has remained solemn, continuing as a day of remembrance for the friends and family we lost over a decade ago.

However, I have discovered that this is not the case in Los Angeles. Here, people feel disconnected to the events of that devastating Tuesday. Little sense of patriotism or pride is sparked in Californians when the day passes, and this past September 11th, countless students at this school began their weekend partying without hesitation.

One can understand the general apathy toward 9/11 that prevails on the West Coast. Here, very few were personally affected, and many may not understand the magnitude of devastation that afflicted New Yorkers fourteen years ago. When time passes, it is difficult to truly remember the pain our country endured, especially for something that happened on the opposite side of the continent.

But this is not what is most troubling for me. Throughout the past year, I've heard numerous jokes about September 11th. Any day, kids will discuss 9/11 nonchalantly, using the day's tabooness to provoke a quick chuckle from their friends. Here, the most common reference to the terrorist attacks is with comedic purpose, so I must ask: have Americans, only fourteen years later, reached a point where 9/11 jokes have become socially acceptable?

One of the many things I remember from that fateful day occurred around 8 p.m. that night. I was sitting with my parents watching the news coverage and asked my father, who worked only blocks away from the World Trade Center, Why are we still watching this? He told me, "Because it's important. One day you'll understand. Today, I understand more than ever, but I am scared that many Americans no longer understand. It stings whenever I hear a joke about the World Trade Center, and my Long Island accent comes out in full-force with my frustration. New Yorkers may have a unique pride that allowed us to be so resilient after such a horrific tragedy, a pride that we all still carry. Americans must rekindle that pride and patriotism we all felt over a decade ago, we must reconsider the appropriateness of making September 11th into a laughing matter, and most importantly, we must remember those who willingly and unwillingly sacrificed their lives on this day in the name of freedom. We cannot dissolve into a country of ignorance in which a recent national tragedy is the subject of comedy.

Reach Guest Contributor Hunter Holland here.



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