A Notion To “Always Remember” Not “Never Forget”

September 11th always brings a sense of sadness and vulnerability across our country. The repercussions of the events that took place on 9/11/2001 still ring around the globe today, whether you’re directly involved or not.

I have no military ties or family affected by the attack, but that day is still branded into my memory as if I did. The attacks taught me more about politics, grief, and love, than anything else in my short life. I remember my 3rd grade teacher stopping class with her eyes swelling up to tell us that twin towers were attacked. I’ve never even heard of the twin towers, but I trusted my teacher that it was bad news so I too cried as we were sent home early to be with our loved ones.

The rest is history as you know, and may just be (I hope) the worst tragedy we experience in our lifetime. The clashing of humans leading to something so catastrophic we collectively as a country can’t get it out of our minds. And that’s why we should choose to always remember, not never forget.

The unspoken tagline in memory of the event is “never forget” which has picked up widely and probably tattooed on at least 10,000 people, which I understand, but I don’t. Although the two phrases are technically opposite, they actually mean the same thing: to remain in your memory, which is indeed how we want to commemorate the fallen.

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However, “never forget” is a double negative that implies that lost people are routinely forgotten. The issue is that 9/11 is not something you can choose to forget, but it is something you can choose to always remember. Not just the events, but the heroism displayed by Americans in the aftermath.

I didn’t think much about the quote “never forget” until my friend Jeff Buell posted to Facebook this morning regarding this notion. Here are his words, not mine:

An annual attempt at swimming upstream…

Always Remember…

You’re going to see the words “never forget” today. A lot. And it bothers me.

It’s a fact of life that we can’t forget what happened. I hate the words never forget. It’s a double negative that does no one any good.

I personally choose to “always remember”. Always remember the loss of innocent life, and the bravest act mankind can embark on, giving their life so that another may live. It was done over and over and over that day. Some made the ultimate sacrifice, others got lucky and survived.

September 11th was the worst day we have ever experienced as a society. However, it’s also the brightest, most incredible example there is of our ability to do good and care for others. And love.

We all remember where we were. Who we talked to. What we did. The emptiness we felt. The tears we shed. And the tears we shared.

Those are things our brains will never let us forget, so let’s stop saying it. You can’t choose to forget.

But always remembering is a choice.

Remember love. Remember sacrifice. Remember we are one people United. Remember that hate can’t win when love is present. Remember that when others aim to divide us, our best option is to love them back.

Jeff said it best. You can’t choose to forget, but always remembering is a choice you can make. From all the bad that came from 9/11, it also shed exposed the amount of good Americans are capable of and the heroism we possess, and that’s worth remembering, always.


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