The past few days my daughter’s class has been studying colors. Each day the children are to wear the designated color- brown, red, yellow, green, blue. Today, however, they will wear three colors; red, white and blue, in honor of September 11th, is what I think the note sent home said.
My daughter wasn’t born when those attacks, six years ago today, happened. In fact, I doubt she knows anything beyond September 11th than the most benign meaning that a date can convey: simply where the earth is in relation to the sun in its annual cycle. And actually not even that.
Maybe if it were someone’s birthday or Christmas, the date would mean something to her. And yet, here she goes off to school, proudly wearing the colors of our American flag. Have I told her why? Will they tell her at school? What do you say to a kindergartener about something like that? At this age, I think, maybe, nothing. At this age, I think, maybe, nothing?
I don’t really know. Hence, I say it with the question mark, and without.
Last year, living just above Manhattan, I was hyper-aware of the anniversary. It had been five years, and for some reason, a five-year anniversary is significant. CNN streamed on the web a rebroadcast in real-time of the events of that morning, starting about 15 minutes before the beginning of the attacks. To go back to an America and a World that was pre-9/11, that was surreal. Almost more so than viewing the attacks themselves once more.
Each year down at the site of the WTC they have read the names of all who perished there. I have wondered, and I hope not disrespectfully, at what point do we not do that? Is it this year? Is it after 10 years? after 11 years? Never? Is it a conscious decision or does it just happen as my daughter’s generation rises, having lived with 9/11 as Patriot Day as designated by some politicians and calendars, where kindergarteners wear red, white and blue to school, and not as a day that became a significant place holder in a before/after way of dividing life in these United States.
In other words, I’m not sure how I feel about sending my daughter off to school today, draped in the colors of the flag. Because I’m not sure why we’re doing it.
It’s not that there aren’t valid reasons to do so. A show of patriotism. To show respect for those who lost their lives. To have a way our country shows unity, despite being quite divided over how to deal with the ramifications of 9/11. Do I feel funny about the whole thing because somehow a more solemn remembrance has been conveniently folded into Color Week at My Elementary School, USA?
But also marked on the calendar today there is something else. Today there is a New Moon. The beginning of a new cycle and for some reason that strikes me as significant. As with everything else I’ve written, I’m not sure why that is, except that it is. I guess because from something new, comes hope. And that’s something we can never have too much of.
A New Moon. A new beginning. Hope. A happy and oblivious kindergartener skipping off to the bus stop. A place to start from. Let’s start.