HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
September 17, 2007, Herald Journal

Living history with September 11


One of my favorite segments to watch is WCCO’s “Good Question” with Ben Tracy.

This is when viewers have the opportunity to e-mail practical and simple questions that many of the general public wouldn’t have the answers to; questions many people share.

For example, during the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the question was “Why do we remember 9/11 so well?”

It’s something I’ve often thought about. Ask anyone and they can probably tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing, and how they felt on that tragic day in history. I know I can. It’s all so vivid to me even to this day.

I remember waking up that morning and sitting down in my Winona apartment to watch the morning news and munch on some cereal.

I turned the TV on just in time to see the second plane slam into the World Trade Center.

I remember thinking, “Was this prerecorded or did this just happen?”

What an errie day it was. I got ready for class although I figured it would be canceled.

I was right. I got to my Introduction to Advertising class and there was a note on the door for the students. “Go home and watch the news. You are living history.”

That’s exactly what I did – all day long. I watched the news, called my family and loved ones, I even got my Bible out and began reading The Book of Revelations. I was so sure this was a sign of the end.

According to the psychology professor in question, the reason people remember events like 9/11 so well is because of what is called a flash bulb memory. This is caused by a release of hormones in the brain. It’s used as a survival instinct, as a way of avoiding similar danger later.

Also, events like 9/11 are remembered yearly. Therefore, each year, we remember exactly where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt reinforcing the incident and instilling it in our brains.

Older generations can remember the JFK assassination, the space craft Challenger exploding, Princess Diana’s death, and some, Pearl Harbor.

The amount of media coverage may also have an influence on how much we can remember about a certain event.

Whatever the particular reason may be for events remaining so fresh in our minds, September 11 will no doubt be remembered by all who experienced that sad day.