Photo courtesy of NY Daily News: “President Obama gave a speech marking the 15th anniversary of 9/11.”
On September 11th, 2016, Americans throughout the country commemorated the 2,977 men and women whose lives were taken on 9/11. Families of victims embraced among the crowd of people at the National September 11 memorial in New York, and many were at a loss for words. Similar atmospheres of remembrance and commemoration were felt across the country as people came together for support throughout the day.
Elizabeth Clain, the Principal of Mamaroneck High School, was teaching at MHS on September 11th. “Nobody knew what was happening,” she explained as she recalled the details. “Everybody was freaking out.” And while she and the rest of Mamaroneck High School somehow got through the end of that day, coming to school in the following weeks and going through a normal routine was the hardest part. “Those weeks were extremely difficult. We were all on the verge of weeping all the time. You had to stand in front of kids and be appropriate… it was a hard hard time.”
Similar feelings of guilt and mourning were felt throughout the United States. Because the generation currently attending MHS was either not alive or too young to remember, they feel the aftermath of 9/11 through the recollections of others. Understandably, their feelings toward the event are different from those who were of age to remember this horrendous day.
“Those of us who were here, and those of us who lived through it, particularly feel like it’s an important thing,” Ms. Clain remarked.
Unfortunately, 9/11 has not been the only tragic event to take place during the 21st century. There have been many more horrifying incidents, such as the the Sandy Hook shooting, the attacks in San Bernadino and the shooting in Orlando. These acts impact more than the families of those killed; they affect our entire country. In the words of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, “There is no New Yorker who somehow evaded the pain of that day. We all felt it. We all were affected.”
Yet during a day when many Americans were solemn, it was important for many to focus their attention on the future of our country. President Obama emphasized this in his speech at the Pentagon memorial service, saying that the “steadfast love and faithfulness” of those that survived has kept our country going. Our nation immediately unified in the face of tragedy: 36,000 units of blood were donated to the New York Blood Center, and about 400 first responders died while trying to save others. Though 9/11 was a tragic event, on its 15th anniversary some Americans sought to highlight hope. As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches year after year, the painful memories are not something that can be contained within one day.
As Ms. Clain said, “When we do a moment of silence, it doesn’t in any way capture that.” The lasting effects are much more substantial. Unfortunately, the span of time between then and now has not alleviated the pain or caused it to fade. Ms. Clain and the people who remember that day agree that “it doesn’t get easier.”
By Emily Nadler