Time to forget? Time to let go?
It has been my tradition to post something about the events of September 11, 2001 on the anniversary of that day. This may (I’ll have to see how I feel next year) be the last time. Read on to find out why.
In most time zones, an anniversary of an event that changed the world is here, or has come and gone. We can hardly keep from being aware of all the media and community events surrounding the tenth anniversary of of a terrorist attack on US cities. Before I go any further, I want you to know I do NOT intend this to be a reminiscence, or “where were you when you heard” kind of discussion. That is being done elsewhere.
Instead, I want to ask: “Is it time to let go of these yearly remembrances and media hype? During the past week, I’ve found myself deliberately tuning out when a “special report” came on the news. This surprised me, as during the first few years after the initial attacks, I had produced or otherwise participated in commemorative events. The most profound of these was on the one year anniversary, when feelings were still very tender.
My background is partially Jewish, and I grew up with relatives and friends, parents and grandparents uttering that phrase popular after the Holocaust: “Never Forget”. For my entire life, I’ve watched coverage of “Pearl Harbor Day” in December, commemorating what had been the biggest attack on our shores.
This year, I’ve found I’ve had it. While we have strong feelings about the victims of these horrors, and want to do all we can to prevent them from recurring, perhaps it is time to…if not forget, at least move on. There is something bothersome about “celebrating” these anniversaries every year. I realize I started moving toward this point two years ago, here. Last year, I was already wondering what and/or if I would post on this topic this year, as I am now speculating on next.
This year, I’ve heard things that contribute to this feeling in me. A good friend told me he and his family keep the particular anniversary day “very low key” because they lost someone important to them. I never knew anyone who perished in these attacks, only people who knew people. On that level, I really have no right to speak about this. But, events in May started to change how I thought, too. When the instigator of the plot was killed by US forces, I was embarrassed that the world saw people from my country dancing in the streets. Isn’t that exactly what our so called “enemies” do; the ones we feel so superior to?
Several days after that killing I read articles from reporters that tried, and sometimes succeeded, to interview survivors about how they “felt” about that event. None of the ones that agreed to share had been dancing in the streets. None had rejoiced. A few felt that, perhaps, the world was a bit safer after this person had been removed from it. But none of them celebrated his passing. Some expressed sadness that it had come to this; that our country had to resort to killing in revenge.
In the last few days, when I have listened to media reports, they were from one source: public radio. I listened to the voices of many who were not planning to attend any of the public commemorations. One woman said she and her son would visit her firefighter husband’s grave, and then have a quiet dinner together. Another made sure we knew that he intended to visit a chapel at dusk, with just a few close friends, at a time he knew no one else would be there.
These are the voices of people who actually lost someone that mattered. There is none of the outrage, thirst for revenge, or hatred that “regular Americans” express in conjunction with these sad and misguided attacks.
Perhaps we should take a lesson from them, the ones that have a right to feel the most, and slowly (but as quickly as we reasonably can) let it go. let it go. and live.
THIS is a link to the preview of a radio show I listened to while contemplating this post. Some fascinating perspective there.