Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Where were you on 9/11?

September 14, 2013 

Where were you when you heard about 9/11?

I was at the beach, sleeping late. My 20-month-old son came into the room and turned on the television. A tall building was burning. I thought it was a scene from "Die Hard" and told him to turn it off.

On Wednesday, teachers talked to their students about the terrorist attacks on that fateful day. Some high school teachers went around the room and asked everybody to tell where they were and what they were doing.

Seniors and juniors, who were between the ages of 4 and 6 at the time, had startlingly vivid memories. Most freshmen and sophomores, who were 2 or 3 back then, were too young to remember.

I wonder what 9/11 will mean to my children in 25 or 30 years, when they are my age. To get a perspective, I figured out how old each of my children was on 9/11, and what key historical events occurred when I was their age.

My daughter was 5 on 9/11. When I was 5, the big stories were Watergate and Roe v. Wade and Apollo 17. I was interested in space, but I didn't understand the other two stories until years later.

On 9/11, my oldest son had recently turned 3. When I was 3, the voting age was lowered to 18 and Charles Manson was sentenced to death. I don't remember where I was when those things happened. Manson is now 78 years old.

On 9/11, my middle son was approaching his second birthday. When I was 20 months old, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, which was another space story that may have captured my imagination at the time. I can't remember. I also don't remember the Kent State shootings or the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

My youngest son, on 9/11, was a 1-month-old fetus. When I was a fetus, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the Tet Offensive was launched, the Department of Transportation was formed and the Packers won Super Bowl I.

I don't remember any of it. I'd like to think I remember or could at least appreciate being warm and secure and fed constantly.

I did the same exercise for my parents and grandparents.

My parents grew up hearing about things that happened around the time they were born: America joining World War I and later the Treaty of Versailles and the Black Sox Scandal and prohibition.

Those things were important enough for their children — and now for me and my children — to learn about many years later.

My parents grew up hearing about the death of Hitler, the Battle of the Bulge, the D-Day landings, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Those things, of course, were important enough for me and my children to learn about many years later.

What events from the past 25 years will stand the test of time?

The fall of the Berlin Wall? Operation Desert Storm? The Oklahoma City bombing? The Iraq War? The War in Afghanistan? The capture of Saddam Hussein? The killing of Osama bin Ladan?

What about the mortgage crisis or the O.J. Simpson trial or the death of the King of Pop?

Will anybody remember that Elvis died on the toilet?

One thing is certain: Americans should never forget 9/11 and how we felt as a nation on that day.

Eventually, those of us who lived it will be gone. Now's the time to pass those memories along.

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com.

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