One Day, We’ll Commemorate 9-11 Like the Civil War

9-11 Memorial at World Trade Center

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the intersection of 9-11 and Civil War remembrance.  It started with a post on the subject and that led to two newspaper interviews.  An Associated Press article on 9-11 that I was recently interviewed for gave me the opportunity to explore the subject a bit further.  It will be published at some point soon.  A couple of days ago I decided to write it up as an editorial and the History News Network agreed to run it.  You can read it here if interested.  Thanks again to HNN for agreeing to publish it.  My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who were lost on 9-11.

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5 comments… add one
  • Julie Holcomb Sep 9, 2011 @ 11:35

    Thank you for an excellent editorial. I only regret that I did not read it earlier. In my preventive conservation class yesterday, our discussion touched on these same issues. As museum professionals we try to preserve the past for future generations, but we cannot capture the “personal.” Eventually collective memory evolves and, despite our best efforts to preserve the emotional impact of events like the Civil War and 9/11, the “personal” memory of those events is lost.

    I have shared the article with my students. Thanks again for such a thought provoking article. I’m glad HNN published it. I hope the race raises a lot of money.


    • Kevin Levin Sep 9, 2011 @ 11:39

      Thanks again Julie. Nice to know that the essay made it into a classroom.

  • Rob Baker Sep 9, 2011 @ 9:01


    I enjoyed the read and I am also trying to get an editorial published about remember 9/11 as well. I fear that there is an element not being taken into account. First let me say that I agree with you 100% that an objective thought process needs to be taken. If we look at the Civil War, over 150 years have gone by without the war being objective studied as slavery was cast aside through reconciliation. That is such a long standing gap between event and good historical scholarship becoming broad. My fear is that 9/11 might take even longer to be studied objectively. There is already a generation in high school now that is disconnected personally, having not memory of the situation that are plainly not receiving appropriate objective material. The reason being, that publish school teachers (me) have been told to present one narrative. That America was attacked, without any talk of foreign policy etc.

    We cannot study the Civil War without looking at slavery any more than we can look at Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor without thinking about Japanese Imperialism and the oil embargo. My fear, is that objective thinking may actually take place longer, as subjective analysis is pushed into place. That is the element, that I fear might reduce the historical scholarship from impacting those in the public. But maybe I am being too critical of the present without accounting for a generalized predicted future.

  • Rob Wick Sep 9, 2011 @ 6:55


    A very thought-provoking essay. Glad you were able to get it out to a larger audience. Hope the race raises a lot of money in memory of your cousin.


    • Kevin Levin Sep 9, 2011 @ 6:57

      I appreciate that, Rob. Thanks.

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