September 11th, 2010
10:05 AM ET

Letters to the President: #600 'A special day; another day'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama said long ago that he enjoys getting advice from the public, and I took him at his word. So on this, the 600th day of his presidency, I am once again writing a letter to the White House. If he has changed his mind, I’m hoping he’ll let me know.

Dear Mr. President,

An astonishing thought came to me as I was reading the transcript of your big news conference today: There are children in school now, who know how to read and write, to add and subtract; who enjoy soccer, act in plays, take piano lessons and participate in science fairs that were not even born when 9/11 happened. For them it is, and will always be, an item from the history books. Like World War One is for our generation. I can’t speak for you, of course, but that kind of blows my mind.

I wonder if that’s what Pearl Harbor felt like for many Americans when they returned from the war and by the mid-1950’s were busy raising kids, mowing lawns, and marveling at the advent of TV dinners.

I’m sure for our many fellow citizens who lost a family member or friend that day, the memories are still terribly sharp. I think of them often, and I suspect all of us who lived through the experience will never forget it. Nor should we.

And yet even as we teach our children the history of our nation, and tell them about the fear, anguish, and fury that followed those attacks, I think it is important that we remind them of all the good that has come too. Each year when I consider this anniversary, I think also about all the planes that have taken off and landed safely since; all the rodeos, graduations, birthdays, worship services, trips to the beach, first kisses, last hurrahs; all the new babies and all the old friends; all the songs written and dances danced. And I say to myself, like Louis Armstrong, what a wonderful world.

The greatness of our nation, I think, has always rested not merely in our strong defense of freedom, but in our appreciation for what freedom means. I, for one, will not live my life in fear, no matter what enemies come our way. I will not teach my children to live that way either. Rather, I will teach them what a lot of nine-year-olds already know: September 11th is a day of memory and respect, but one that can be a good day too.

There may be no greater tribute to those who died, than for us to live; to walk in the sun, to love our fellow man, to hope, to dream, and to show through our optimism and courage, that there is still a place in the world for those who love freedom…and for all our failings and mistakes, our nation is unbowed in that belief.

All the best to you on this good day. Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Ronnie

    Bless your heart – what a wonderful posting – I'm wiping tears right now...

    September 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  2. Karol Davis

    What wonderful letters. I hope the prez gets as much out of them as I do! As for where I was on 9-11-01, It was about 10am and I had just walked into D.E.S. to apply for food stamps for the first time since I was a young single mother. This woman came up to me, babbling about schools on lockdown, and other stuff but, honestly, she seemed a bit off her rocker to me! Then I looked up at the T.V. in the office and there, against a backdrop of smoldering tower(s), under the headline, TERROR IN AMERICA, there was Peter Jennings telling me stuff I didn't want to hear! Like a child, I wanted to put my hands over my ears, and sing loudly, "LA LA LA LALALALA LA LA!" So that I could drown out what he was saying. I think we all knew that things had changed forever. But even though there are kids who aren't old enough to remember, there are enough of us who are who won't let them forget. I was 3 or 4 when President Kennedy died, lived in Inglewood, CA, and I REMEMBER all the grown-ups, black, white, and asian, crying. I'll remember it always because as a tiny girl, it was frightening to see ALL the grown-ups crying.It was a different era after Marilyn, Jack, Robert, and Martin died. It was like a whole generation of young, vibrant, prominent movers and shakers were gone. Then the old farts took over again, and there was Vietnam. We have to learn from these bad periods or we are doomed to repeat them.

    September 12, 2010 at 5:49 am |
  3. Diya

    I will not live my life in fear, too. Thank you, Mr. Foreman and Mr. Cooper for sharing this letter.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  4. Robert Stroney

    I would like to think the President reads what I have to say. I think I come with solutions. I certainly try [to].

    It's certainly true, some – were children when 9/11 happened; I think of it clearly, as though it were yesterday. These kids view it as history from a book or computer screen. It's all about your prospective.

    I remember exactly where I was when 9/11 happened; I re-run it automatically in my mind.

    September 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm |