Nine.Eleven

12 09 2007

So what are we supposed to make of 9/11 these days? Today is the sixth anniversary and the biggest thing that struck me is that nothing really struck me (at least until about five minutes ago — more on that in a sec). I’m a big sap and tend to obsess and overwhelm myself with information when ‘sad’ things happen. Six years ago Sandy had to beg me to turn off the television in the days and weeks after the attacks because I just couldn’t look away and was letting it all get to me. That continued even past the one year anniversary — I’d hear “Amazing Grace” in a totally unrelated context and it would bring all the emotions back. All of this and I didn’t even have a connection to the tragedies. I lived in Charlottesville at the time and didn’t personally know anyone who was a victim or even anyone who was directly related to a victim (I seriously and wholeheartedly apologize to anyone I am overlooking or who I didn’t realize had such a connection).

I remember at the time of the events, I was so sure that it would change the world and people would never be able to fully move on. I felt that 9/11 would always stay with us and change the everything. It hasn’t. Not at all. Not for me or my friends or family. I think today confirmed just what kind of culture we have. It is the sixth anniversary of arguably the worst tragedy in our history (“our” referring to being an American) and no one seemed to acknowledge it. I drive past the Pentagon on my way to and from work and just a few years after having to go past armed Hummers on that drive I saw a lone police car giving someone a speeding ticket. The only non-internet media reference I heard all day was a moment of silence on Eliott in the Morning on my drive in at the moment that one of the planes took off. Nothing else on the radio. Even the internet was shockingly quiet about the anniversary. Sure cnn.com had a couple of stories and even deadspin did a post, but it really seemed to be a non-story everywhere I looked. Tonight on television there aren’t any specials or retrospectives or memorials. Just reruns.

I was beginning to think that all of this is actually a good thing. Not to be cheesy, but it shows our resilience and that we are back to normal as a society. The past six years have been very good to me and fortunately not even 9/11 could put a roadblock in my way. Of course there are thousands of people being affected by by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and I certainly feel for them, but frankly this stuff doesn’t touch me and I guess I’m grateful for that. I was thinking that it was good that we have returned to a state of complacency because we shouldn’t let terrorists or fundamentalists or anyone else change the way we are. But I was struggling with that notion. It didn’t feel right. It felt like 9/11 should still matter and should still affect me.

I guess by coincidence then, Sandy called me at the last minute and asked me to run an errand that she wasn’t going to have time to do. So I got in the car, ran to the store and on my way back had NPR on. And finally they were discussing 9/11 in that reserved poignant way that only NPR can. The commentators were discussing a group of victims’ families who were pushing peace. They were discussing a woman who testified on behalf of Moussoui and is credited with getting him a life sentence instead of the death penalty. She was proud despite her obviously mixed emotions. Next were the words of a woman who told of coming home to a message from her son who was in the World Trade Center and was leaving a message to say goodbye. That got to me and brought everything back. I’m not over 9/11 and I never want to be. I will continue to struggle with this as the tragedy is politicized and commercialized and ignored. I want to move on, but I don’t.

And I guess that will be the legacy of 9/11 for me. The conflicts, both internal and external. Good versus evil, but so much more than that. The struggle between whether to be happy, sad or indifferent on 9/11/08. The conflict between wanting to be hit over the head with memorials and to want see that reruns mean that we can move on. The struggle between making a Debbie Downer joke in the middle of this post or being serious, because that is what a post like this supposed to be. The struggle between typing this post and keeping it all inside.

I won’t ramble any more. I hope that everyone remembers and no one forgets each in their own way. But I also hope that everyone can move on when they are ready or linger with their thoughts if that is what feels right. Thanks for indulging me.

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2 responses

12 09 2007
Jan

This morning 9/11 was very much on my mind as I started my day. Where was I and what was I doing 6 yrs ago today. It’s like where were you when Kennedy died. . .

Because I work at home I left the TV on all day and the following programs mentioned 9/11 i.e. The View (briefly), Tucker Carlson, local news stations but mostly Oprah’s show was totally dedicated to the victims and heroes of 9/11 and their families. Also, tonight on MSNBC they are replaying The Today Show from 9/11/01 in its entirety.

I felt that at some moment during the day everything would suddenly stop and everyone would feel the shock and sadness again – it didn’t happen and for that, I’m thankful. It’s true that we are resilient and our lives do continue BUT I believe that we will always remember what happened on 9/11/01, where we were when we heard about it and hopefully, we will never forget.

12 09 2007
Tootsie Roll

I totally agree with you about the non-existence of 9/11 in the media yesterday. As I pulled out of the J on my way to the office it was 8:43. I turned on the radio expecting to hear people talking about it, observing a moment of silence. I started with NPR – they talked about something totally unrelated. Next I tried O-Rock – nothing, just a Beastie Boys song. I finally found a moment (actually just a few seconds) of silence on one station. I wanted to relive that sadness and pain. But about all I got was a half mast flag at the Perkins on my way in. Then I came home last night hoping to watch a memorial, but instead spent two hours eating in bed while I watched fat people on the Biggest Loser. (Does that make me even more of a loser? That I sat in bed eating while I watched it?)

One thing I did hear was a speech by Hillary at the WTC site. And I have to say (sorry Sandy) that Hil lost a little of my respect during that speech. She took a time that should have been about memorializing and remembering and turned it into a stump speech about healthcare. Does everything have to come back to politics? Aren’t we all Americans and weren’t we all sad TOGETHER that day?

Anyway, I will stop rambling, but I just wanted to say that I totally agreed with you yesterday on the lack of 9/11.

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