PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
“Never Forget” is an expression and political slogan used to urge others to remember the events surrounding a national tragedy, most notably the September 11th, 2001 attacks. On the web, the phrase has been used ironically to poke fun at news events that have been blown out of proportion, or to celebrate a variety of disappearing relics of the past.
According to an article published by New York Magazine, the expression was first used in relation to the Holocaust during World War 2:
“Never forget” long ago entered the lexicon, in relation to the Holocaust. It has now been reassigned to 9/11, where it is likely to remain. It has become a mantra and a marketing tool for politicians and merchandise alike.
According to Wikipedia, a similar slogan “Never forget the class struggle” was introduced by 1st Chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong in 1962, which subsequently became a popular slogan for the Chinese Cultural Revolution throughout the 1960s.
The similar phrase “Lest we forget” originated in the refrain of the poem Recessional, written by Rudyard Kipling in 1897, in reference to the decline of British imperial power. In the Commonwealth countries, the phrase is commonly associated with World War I, specifically the battles that took place in Flanders. This is thanks to the “Ode of Remembrance,” taken from the poem For the Fallen, written by Lawrence Binyon in 1914. “Lest we forget” remains in common usage in those countries today, especially around holidays such as Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) and ANZAC Day (April 25).
September 11th Attacks
Following the suicide plane attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001, the slogan was used to commemorate those who lost their lives. It also became associated with the United States militarism after being adopted by those who supported the subsequent War on Terror. Online, many September 11th animated GIFs and image macros were created using the slogan as a caption (shown below).
On January 1st, 2007, Xkcd published a comic titled “America,” which included a timeline with the event “Jimmy Carter attacked by giant swimming rabbit” and the caption “America must never forget” (shown below).
On January 26th, 2009, the webcomic site Dern Werks published an illustration of an ape from the 1968 science fiction film Planet of the Apes in front of a fallen Statue of Liberty with the caption “Never Forget” (shown below). On September 11th, 2010, Redditor BaudiROCZ submitted a post titled “Am I alone in hating the statement ‘Never Forget 9/11’?”, which complained about the way the phrase had become a platitude.
On November 3rd, 2011, Redditor martinap submitted a post titled “11/3/11 – Never Forget,” including an image mocking the public reaction to the Google search Easter egg referencing the “Do a barrel roll” Internet meme. On September 14th, 2012, Redditor robotsongs submitted a post to the /r/pics subreddit titled “Never Forget: 9/14/11 [NSFW],” featuring several nude photographs of actress Scarlett Johansson that had been leaked in September of 2011. Within one month, the post received over 24,500 up votes and 1,450 comments.
2007 Boston Bomb Scare
On January 31st, 2007, battery-powered LED placards resembling the pixel art Mooninite characters from the Adult Swim animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force were mistakenly identified by the Boston Police Department as explosive devices. The placards had been placed in various locations throughout Boston, Massachusetts as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign by the company Interference, Inc. After police arrested two men who had been hired to install the signs, many responded by calling the arrests an overreaction and holding signs saying “1-31-07 Never Forget” (shown below).
East Coast Earthquake
On August 23rd, 2011, a small earthquake erupted across the east coast of the United States, that resulted in a barrage of social media activity about the underwhelming seismic activity. On the same day, Redditor uncouthsilence5 submitted a post titled “Never Forget” to the /r/pics subreddit, featuring an image macro of a bald eagle superimposed over a fallen lawn chair with the caption “8/23/2011 / Never Forget” (shown below, left). Prior to being archived, the post received over 26,500 up votes and 990 comments.
After Hurricane Irene hit United States shores n August 28th, 2011, several image macros were created with the caption “never forget” mocking the underwhelming damage caused by the tropical storm (shown below).