The Class of 2014 (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, May. 19, 2014 12:00 am  

The high school graduation invitations have been arriving in the mail, and along with trying to remember to pick up some gifts and congratulatory cards, we’ve been considering this amazing fact: The kids turning their tassels from right to left this month had just started kindergarten on Sept. 11, 2001.

How quickly news becomes memory becomes history.

Just in time for Americans who barely remember that awful day to reach adulthood, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will open this week “within the archaeological heart of the World Trade Center” — underground on the southern end of Manhattan at the place we all came to know as Ground Zero. Artifacts from that day — gear from martyred firefighters and a presidential bullhorn and stairs that spelled salvation for the lucky ones — will be on permanent display.

As with any undertaking of this sort, there have been disagreements, philosophical and logistical. It’s impossible to dismiss the continuing grief of families whose loved ones’ remains were never recovered from what will be, in its way, a tourist attraction. But it is altogether fitting that our nation should have a permanent place to tell the story of the most horrifying day most Americans can remember, and one that changed the world in which our children — the class of 2014 and after — have grown up and will spend their lives.

This is what the museum director, Alice M. Greenwald, means when she writes that the museum is “[a]s much about ‘9/12’ as it is about 9/11.” In addition to the lingering irritations — the class of 2014 doesn’t remember when airline travel was fun and exciting rather than irritating and vaguely unsettling — 9/11 proved that, under duress, America was still one nation, one people, united in purpose.

That’s something we would like our children to learn, even if they can’t remember those days.



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