Tag Archives: 9/11

What Will We Forget?


I wonder what’s going to stick with us after this is all said and done.

I mean, COVID is not going away. It spread too far, it’s in the ecosystem now, it’s mutating… it’s going to be with us basically forever. We’ll get better at mitigating and treating it, no doubt. And the vaccine will allow us to return to something like normal. And I imagine that “normal” will look pretty much like “normal” before COVID, with the exception that a lot more people will die during cold and flu season. That will be the new normal.

But it shouldn’t be, right? I mean, you look at a disaster like 9/11, and “normal” after that day was a pretty far cry from “normal” before. Society made some lasting changes as a result. Airports, to say the absolute least, have never been the same. (I remember, when I was in high school, on a boring summer day, driving to Atlanta Hartsfield airport and just playing around there all day. Roaming the terminals, getting lunch at the restaurants, riding the automated sidewalks and trams around. What a great day that was. Also? There is *so much* art and other neat stuff on display in airports, and the average person probably has occasion and access to see so little of it. One of the great invisible losses. Anyway…)

And, not to belabor a point that’s been made here and many other places, but the loss we’ve incurred from the pandemic absolutely dwarfs the horrific losses of 9/11. We’re over the half a million mark, and still going. That’s very quickly going to become 200 times as many people dead of COVID as died on 9/11.

200 times worse. There’s really no way to grapple with that.

So what will stick with us, and what will fade into “can you believe that happened” territory?

In particular, I fixate on masks. Probably because they’re the most visible sign that something is amiss in our world, and also, there was that whole thing where they became this ridiculous political symbol here in America. But we’ve learned, haven’t we, that masks are an easy way to mitigate the spread of not just COVID, but many airborne diseases, right? So will it become a normal thing to wear a mask in cold and flu season if you’re feeling symptoms?

Or how about taking a day off work? We so rarely take days off from work for the most part here, and people in my profession (teachers) are especially guilty. (In my own case, unless I’m well and truly impaired by whatever’s ailing me, I would rather go to work and suffer than deal with missing a day of school. Getting a sub, making lesson plans, dealing with discipline issues that come up because kids are awful to subs… it’s a whole hassle.) Will we relax a little bit about missing a day at the office in the interest of public health?

What will we learn, and what will we forget?


Age of Crisis


So you know how you can sort of measure how old you are — what generation you belong to — by the first national crisis you remember? (For me, it’s the Challenger explosion — I believe I was six at the time).

Teachers play a similar game, except we do it with our students. For example, it was a rough day for me when I realized that I am no longer teaching anybody who was alive when 9/11 happened. My students these days had not been born yet — weren’t a twinkle in their parents’ eyes, even.

Which had me thinking … well … where’s their first crisis moment coming? These things roll around generationally, so one seems due.

And it hit me. COVID is their crisis moment. It just doesn’t feel like one.

Think of your moment. It’s just that, a moment. The Challenger going up in two pillars of smoke in the atmosphere. The Twin Towers coming down. The carnage at the Boston Marathon. (Smaller scale, but still nationally covered.) Lots of souls, tragically snuffed out in an instant.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster - HISTORY

With COVID, you can’t point to that moment. You don’t have that strong sense of memory burned into your brain, that piece of you that somehow always remembers I was sitting in the classroom, three rows back, when the teacher rolled the TV into the room and turned it on… Because COVID has been going for months. There is no moment.

But make no mistake. This is the moment.

Here in the ‘States we’re knocking on the door of 200,000 people dead from this thing. (Unofficial numbers are certainly staggeringly higher.)

Roughly 3,000 people died on 9/11.

COVID has given us as many deaths as sixty-six 9/11s, and it’s far from finished. Put another way, it’s giving us roughly one more 9/11 every 3-5 days.

A 9/11-level loss of life every few days.

How could COVID not be this generation’s crisis moment?

And we still have people in our country pretending it’s no big deal.

Maybe that is the real crisis moment.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: