Sunday, September 11, 2011


I'd initially intended to type up some kind of a reflection about the events of ten years ago and their impact on me and mine. But before I could even get a decent thought-flow going, I started reading the many, many wonderful pieces that have popped up on the web in the past week and realized I really don't have anything to add to the discussion that hasn't already been put out there -- and much better -- by others. I didn't lose anyone in the attacks (thankfully), and I haven't personally dealt with any Islamophobia in the years since (also thankfully), so the two main avenues for expression aren't really as open to me as they are to others. I guess in that sense that makes my 9/11 experience a quintessentially American one.

As do most of us, I remember where I was and who I was when I heard the news of the first plane hitting the towers, and the roil of emotions I felt at that moment can never fully be wiped away. Of course, given the distance of time, a kind of gauze descends on our collective memories, and even the many airings of old news footage currently making the rounds doesn't change the fundamental reality of human existence that the further away something gets from us, the less impactful it seems. Instead of an experiential "now," it becomes an archived "then." The other reality is that the subsequent decade has brought far too much political and social context to ever view 9/11 as an event unto itself. Too many things that shouldn't have changed did, and too many things that should have changed didn't.

As he does so often, writer Mark Evanier encapsulated these feelings on his own excellent site:
On September 11, an oft-heard phrase was "Nothing will ever be the same again." I didn't buy that then. I mean, in one sense "nothing will ever be the same again" after the newest champ is crowned on American Idol. But in the sense that we meant that dire pronouncement on 9/11, I think we were wrong. A lot of things we didn't think would ever be the same again are the same as they ever were. Alas, this includes some of the mistakes...but I think even the most optimistic among us expected more terrorism than we've had the last ten years.  
The news video of 9/11/01 still has the power to shock and enrage, and I'm sure it always will. It should. But I find that each time I take myself back to it, the horror and anger are a little different. For me, at least, they're more reasoned and less visceral. Watching it as it happened, we knew it was the start of something bad but we weren't sure what or how bad. Would there be an attack like that every day or every week from now on? Was this the opening salvo of World War III? Would nuclear weapons be detonated somewhere before the week was out? We just couldn't know...and that was one of the most chilling aspects of 9/11. Today, of course, we know all that could happen tomorrow...but on 9/11, it seemed highly possible that some of that was but hours or days away. We certainly know that we'd have ten years of a different kind of destruction in this country. The self-inflicted kind.
Read the rest of Evanier's piece here. My sympathies today are with anyone who's suffered the wounds of 9/11, be they the families of victims who died or were wounded on that day, or the many, many people all across our shared planet who've died needlessly in the decade since, with 9/11 given as justification.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is another thought-provoking article by Tom Engelhardt