There are moments in your life that you will always remember as if they happened yesterday. Personal moments that speak only to you. But there are also those moments that speak to an entire generation, a country, the world.
Where were you when the Berlin Wall fell?
Where were you when Kennedy was shot?
Where were you when England declared war?
Where were you when....
I don't want to be so ethnocentric as to believe that 9/11 was the only, or the most, powerful moment of our generation but for many it was a time when the world became smaller, scarier and then, as time passed, oddly, more caring and compassionate. In the moments of great devastation and terror we heard messages of love and stories of heroism.
September 11, 2011 was my first day of classes for my third, and final, year of my undergraduate degree. I went to the Manning Memorial Chapel on the Acadia campus following Dr. Duke's Russian History Class. Knowing Dr. Duke he'd probably taught the full hour on the first day. I was going to the chapel as much to find my friends as for any great spiritual purpose. I was 20 years old and more a teenager than an adult. Two good friends, one now a PhD candidate and new father, the other has recently returned from a trip to the Sudan to witness the creation of a new country, came rushing out to tell me that someone had bombed New York City. I laughed at them because really, the idea of someone bombing the United States was insane. Bush was president; it would start World War III. But I was wrong on both accounts. I have very few good things to say about George W. Bush but I am impressed that he managed not to blow all of us up in response.
9/11 was one of the events that made my generation grow up. We remember where we were when. On this weekend it feels like yesterday.
This week I watched a group of students begin their university experience. They were 7 and 8 years old when the planes hit those towers. 9/11 might not be their moment but it certainly shaped how they grew up. I hope their moment is something beautiful and inspiring. I guess we'll see.