We all have that story. Where we were on that Tuesday morning, 18 years ago.
I was the first one in the newsroom that morning. A co-worker from a different department came up to me when I was picking up the overnight mail.
"Did you see that plane fly into that building?" he asked me.
"No, I didn't. Where did you see that?"
"It was on TV."
My co-worker had a developmental disability, and sometimes had trouble getting out all he wanted to say. But he said enough.
I wandered back to the newsroom and turned on our small TV, in time to watch a passenger plane strike the South Tower at the World Trade Center.
The newsroom quickly filled with journalists. Scrapping all other plans, we hastily reported, edited and produced an afternoon "extra" edition (the last one we would ever publish at that Indiana paper), and updated our website with the latest news. And we started working on the next morning's edition.
Making the newspaper on that day was a gift -- my colleagues and I went into work mode, and knew we were doing necessary and important work. The work kept our minds occupied.
In the quiet moments of the evening, my thoughts drifted to how the fresh events of Sept. 11, 2001, would be remembered. I also wondered what would become of the next generation who would only know life after 9/11.
The class of 2020 is a part of that generation.
Most high school seniors enter the school year at 17, or newly 18, and hit that milestone age during that 12th year of school. For them, high-level airport security, threat level warnings and "see something, say something" are ubiquitous, just part of every day life.
Meanwhile, those of us who are older remember a time when you could say goodbye to your loved ones at the boarding gate. A simpler day when you didn't quietly study all the exit routes at a public event, just in case.
Today's 18-year-olds, too, are the ones who will next enlist in the military, knowing the world is a dangerous and complicated place. They will be the young R's or D's or independents, finding their political voices, and learning how to get involved.
They are of the generation entering colleges and universities, then the workforce, demanding greater security at the buildings they spend time in. Unlike those of us in Generation X, these young people have only lived life with the idea of terrorism and mass violence, and have adapted their expectations. Safety training in the workplace is not a chore to them, but a necessity.
While the Sept. 11 anniversary, dubbed "Patriot Day," implores us to "never forget," it's worth noting the world we are leaving for the class of 2020 and beyond. These are the Americans for whom forgetting isn't an option -- their lives and their world have been forever altered by that Tuesday morning in September, so long ago.
Contact Detroit Lakes Tribune Editor J.J. Perry at 218-844-1466, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @jjperry on Twitter.