Politics

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Teaching 9/11: lest they forget

I don't like what I've been reading in the past week or two leading up to 9/11/07 about how "maybe it's time to move on" and "stop commemorating" the tragic events of six years ago "in such a public way."

Rather, as a college teacher whose daily constituency is predominantly age 17-22, I concur with my colleague Joanne Meyerowitz, professor of American studies at Yale, who has edited a superb book I am using in my classes this year, "History and September 11th."

"For historians, history is never set in stone," Dr. Meyerowitz told Janny Scott of The New York Times. "It's written and rewritten in each generation. The events of the present, of the contemporary age, always help us reframe the events of the past. And the events of the past always help us to reframe the age we're living in."

News is the first draft of history

All is in readiness around Glen Ridge High School, as it is indeed at every NJ suburban school today: hedges trimmed, grass cut, windows washed -- and on the white and black Welcome sign upon the green slope facing Ridgewood Avenue, a heartfelt quote inspires tomorrow's reluctant students: "THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP."

OK, fine, I think, driving by...that works (for them)...But the inaugural mantra for my MSU American History classes this fall semester is the same as it was last year: "NEWS IS THE FIRST DRAFT OF HISTORY." I cannot claim authorship of this pithy declaration most often attributed to Washington Post publisher Philip L. Graham.

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