OPINION: “Never Forget” has been forgotten


Piper Hansen

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. While the importance of the 9/11 attacks has spurred thousands of documentaries, movies, books and TV shows, many U.S. teachers aren’t teaching their students about the attacks.

As upperclassmen at Manual, we have never experienced a class where the teacher leads a discussion about the attacks on 9/11 and the aftermath. This trend is unacceptable. An average high school freshman today was born in 2003 and so cannot remember the attacks and the fear that followed.

Teachers are ignoring the 9/11 discussion outside Manual, too. Only 20 states include lessons that go in depth about the events. Many students will go until their early college years without a full understanding of 9/11 and its effects.

The effects of 9/11 still pervade today’s political and social climates. Since the attacks, America’s War on Terror has been a significant part of domestic and foreign policy. In October 2001, President George W. Bush and the United States Congress signed the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) that was created to detect and prevent terrorism.

In 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was created by the Bush Administration and increased as part of the USA PATRIOT Act. The department has helped to increase airline security procedures via the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and increase border security via Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Bush Administration also invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal was to eliminate terror networks before they could strike against another country, especially the United States. In theory, the Iraq War could have been a success if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in his possession. However, neither Hussein nor al-Qaeda possessed such weapons. The war was not only falsely initiated, but the amount of tax dollars, FBI and CIA intelligence/surveillance, American lives and the hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced Iraqi peoples also made the war an extremely ineffective effort. Today, the war in Afghanistan is the longest-running war in United States history. While official combat ended in late 2014, 8,000 United States troops still reside in parts of Afghanistan and President Trump has said that he wants to boost troop levels within the next four years.   

After the discovery of al-Qaeda and the defeat of Osama Bin Laden, some Americans’ reactions towards Muslims were xenophobic or even violent. While the Bush and Obama administrations hoped to avoid blaming the entire Muslim world for the terror attacks, many Americans were willing to go there. Islamophobia was and still is a large outcome of 9/11. Anti-Muslim and anti-Islam hate crimes have nearly tripled since 9/11. In February 2016, anti-Muslim hate crimes made up 13% of all “religiously-motivated” hate crimes.

If schools aren’t teaching their students about 9/11 and the fear and paranoia that rattled the country years after, they are making a huge mistake. The 9/11 attacks were a turning point for the United States and teachers should emphasize its importance in history classes all over the country.

In a recent article from the New York Times, Holly Ojalvo wrote, “Might our children’s reflection of the anniversary of 9/11 help us become a nation of better citizens, of stronger and more decent communities? Can we use the memories of this horrific day to improve our students’ future?” We believe the answer to both questions is “yes,” but first our teachers must make sure we learn about the catastrophes of 9/11 and its long and prevelant aftermath.