Never Forget

It was just another day of elementary school. We were sitting in our assigned seats, eager to learn, when my teacher, Mrs. Pickard, excused herself from the classroom. The teachers gathered in the hallway. At first, we all thought they were going to play a fun joke on us (as they had done in the past). Then, we heard Fear – shock – concern – in their voices. Finally, they returned to the classroom where we waited for a special announcement from our school’s principal: “There has been a terrible incident in New York City. We will be excusing our students early today.” My mom came to pick me up shortly after. Still confused, I asked my mom what was going on- and even she couldn’t comprehend what had happened. What is this terrible event that I’m referring to? 9/11. My memory of the event rings so clear in my mind, despite it being so long ago.

This extreme memory is classified as a flashbulb memory. According to Muchinsky (2012), flashbulb memories are an individual’s memory for the circumstances surrounding highly shocking, supercharged events. Thus, in this case, my description of where I was and what I was doing on 9/11 is a perfect example.

In the article “A Memorial Is Itself a Shaper of Memory”, Boxer (2001) determines if it is possible for individuals to remember events as they actually were, or if they are highly influenced by emotion. Memory is highly susceptible to change; when individuals talk or hear about a pressing issue, they fulfill an internal consensus, forming new collective memories. Boxer (2011) describes a public memorial or ruin as a “scaffold,” something on which collective memory can hang. Ruins have the ability to “erase history”, as individuals are more likely to believe the narrative that comes with it.

This article explains just how inaccurate our memories may be. If we were to measure the accuracy of an individual’s reported memories, a repeated recall must be used to compare later memories with memories collected immediately after the event.


Muchinsky. (2011). Cognitive Psychology. Cengage Learning: Belmont, CA (3).

Boxer, S. (2001). A Memorial Itself is a Shaper of Memory. NY Times. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Never Forget

  1. Margaret Elsa Lesser

    This is such a good example of a flashbulb memory, because I think everyone can relate to remembering exactly where they were on 9/11. I was in 8th grade, and I remember there was a fire drill, the schools way of getting all the teachers together, out on our soccer fields, so they could discuss how to tell the students. I remember us all knowing somehow that this wasn’t a normal fire drill and that the teachers were discussing something important. When we were dismissed from the fire drill, we were sent back to our homeroom classes. I remember Mrs. Chung explaining to our class what had happened. I remember some students leaving early and a few people who had close family members such as aunts and uncles who worked in the building crying in the hallways, not knowing the fate of them. I came home and sat for hours perched on the kitchen stool propped right in front the little TV, watching the footage of the collapsing buildings for hours. Although I can think of a few other flashbulb memories I have, such as hearing when certain family members or friends passed away, I think using 9/11 is a perfect example because I am sure a large majority of us have such a strong memory associated with this.

  2. Cassandra Farmer

    This is a perfect example of flashbulb memory. 9/11 is one of the only times I can remember exactly what I was doing, where I was and pretty much everything about that whole day from when I was younger. I even remember what my mom was wearing when she came to pick me up from school, oddly enough. Flashbulb memory is definitely more connected to emotions than other types of memory, since it comes along with shocking and (mostly) tragic events. You did a good job at explaining flashbulb memory along with the example.

  3. gat5038

    I really appreciate your article regarding this. Related to other aspects of psychology, the vibrancy of these events/memories doesn’t seem to dissipate. The “Flashbulb” imagery of the memory for me is definitely the most intense. I also feel like the greater degree of emotional involvement the more vivid the memory of what happened. While I was growing up I found it amazing that my grandfather could recall the events of December 7th, and Nov 22 so vividly. For me, in chronological order; Challenger, Desert Storm, OJ, 9/11, and Mr. Obama. There are other events that are familiar but these have the most emotional attachment for me. I remember most specifically the anger from 9/11 and the need to return to active duty. I had just been discharged two years before after enlisting for Desert Storm!

  4. Katie-lynn Mae Miller

    I really liked the post that you made for this assignment. I can relate to what you said and I never really went to in depth to thinking about it but I can remember finding out about 9/11, too. I have a pretty bad memory and I don’t remember too much from when I was younger and in school. I was eight years old then and I remember our gym teacher making us all sit up against the wall and telling us about what had happened. I was really young and I barely understood what was going on but I still remember being told the news and sitting there being really confused. It’s weird to think about how things like that will be things that we can never forget. Even with how young that I was, I still remember it clearly like it wasn’t all that long ago even though it has been fourteen years. You did a great job at explaining what flashbulb memory is and remembering 9/11 is a great example of that.

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