Pro­fes­sor ex­am­ines how 9/11 is fad­ing from our mem­o­ries

Course ed­u­cates young stu­dents about 2001 at­tacks.

The Palm Beach Post - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Rus­sell Blair

NEW BRI­TAIN, CONN. — Matthew War­shauer was lec­tur­ing on the Civil War at the Southing­ton Public Li­brary one Septem­ber a few years ago when he looked out­side and saw a ban­ner not un­like thou­sands of oth­ers across the coun­try: 9/11, We Will Never For­get.

But it got the Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State Univer­sity his­tory pro­fes­sor won­der­ing how long that sen­ti­ment would hold true.

“Here I am try­ing to re­mind peo­ple ... of lit­er­ally the big­gest con­flict in Amer­i­can his­tory, and no­body remembers it,” he said of his work re­lated to the Civil War. “So it got me think­ing about his­tor­i­cal mem­ory. How long will we re­mem­ber (9/11)?”

It seems un­fath­omable to most Amer­i­cans that they could for­get the ter­ror at­tacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives one Tues­day in Septem­ber. Years of memo­rial ser­vices, mo­ments of si­lence and two wars in the Mid­dle East have made dis­cus­sion about 9/11 in­escapable.

But many young Amer­i­cans have no rec­ol­lec­tion of the day’s events or of the coun­try’s early re­sponse. Most high school sopho­mores to­day were born af­ter the at­tacks.

Even though they are too young to have any mem­o­ries of Sept. 11, 2001, War­shauer ar­gues that the gen­er­a­tion af­ter the mil­len­ni­als — peo­ple born be­tween 2000 and 2020 — should be re­ferred to as the 9/11 Gen­er­a­tion.

“This is a gen­er­a­tion that has been fun­da­men­tally shaped by the at­tacks and the Amer­i­can re­sponse,” he said.

In a pre­sen­ta­tion he’s sched­uled to give at the Old State House in Hart­ford on Sept. 20, War­shauer lays out some of the things that gen­er­a­tion has grown up with: the in­va­sions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the down­turn of the U.S. and world economies, par­ti­san grid­lock on for­eign pol­icy and the threat of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism.

“Even though the par­tic­u­lars of the event it­self may not res­onate with many younger peo­ple who didn’t live through it, cer­tainly they’re liv­ing with the con­se­quences of it,” said Bi­lal Sekou, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Hart­ford who is join­ing War­shauer for a panel dis­cus­sion af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion.

Sekou said his stu­dents to­day have grown up in a “se­cu­rity state,” with a color-coded threat level scale and where they have to take their shoes off to board a plane. Most have no rec­ol­lec­tion of pre-9/11 so­ci­ety.

“The world has just so fun­da­men­tally changed I don’t think they have the ba­sis for mak­ing a com­par­i­son,” he said.

So, two years ago, War­shauer started teach­ing a course at CCSU called “9/11 Gen­er­a­tion,” aimed at ed­u­cat­ing young stu­dents about the event.

Some stu­dents come to the course “with zero knowl­edge” of 9/11, he said.

“That’s been the most fas­ci­nat­ing thing,” War­shauer said. “It dawned on me: In an­other two years, my stu­dents are go­ing to have ab­so­lutely no emo­tional con­nec­tion or mem­ory of 9/11 at all.”

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