NOTE: This was a very hard and very personal article to write, and I’m going to edit it throughout the day. Since most of my posts are half-assed I’m really insecure about getting this right.
Hello New York-
It has been 12 years. 12 years we have spent publicly rehashing the hurt and pain that happened that day, and I think it may be time for us to move on.
I have always hated the “Never Forget” slogan that popped up on t shirts and bumper stickers following the attacks on September 11th, because for the people affected by 9/11 it was never a choice. You don’t forget the horror and confusion of a day like that, not even if you want to. My mother was downtown that day. We were lucky, she was far enough away from the towers that she came home that night, unlike so many others. I remember the fear of not knowing if she would come home and the relief when she did. I can’t imagine how irrevocably my life would have changed had she not. I remember 9/11, do you?
I think if more people remembered 9/11 the way I remembered it, we would do more as a nation to move on, to heal. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been lectured by people about the importance of “remembering”. They inevitably tell me their stories of where they were that morning. I was pulled over by a Texas state trooper on a long and desolate strip of his highway, and invited to sit in his car while he wrote my ticket. I met his drug sniffing dog “Annie” named for a victim of 9/11 (I don’t know if he knew the woman’s, if he did he didn’t care to tell me). I sat there silently as he turned to me grave faced and just a little misty eyed, and told me how 9/11 had interrupted his morning coffee. I chose not share my own experience. For him it was a Bad Thing that happened to strangers a thousand miles away, for me it was the very real possibility of losing my mother and shattering my family. What was it to you?
I’m not suggesting we forget loved ones we lost, or the heroes who gave their lives saving others, but it IS time to end this industry of mourning. Have you been to ground zero? You take off your shoes and your belt to stand in line with a bunch of tourists in white jeans and designer t shirts so they can publicly gawk at our grief while buskers sell them iphone cases.
Now, we vie to publicly prove how well we remember 9/11, with facebook statuses and gaudy tattoos and lapel pins. We peddle patriotism and mourning wrapped up in a convenient two word slogan used so often I wonder if it ever had any meaning.
We are so busy remembering this attack we sometimes forget the real toll it took. Next time someone tells you to #neverforget ask them what they really remember. Do they remember 9/11 as it happened, and names and faces of those lost and injured on that day, or do they remember memorials and tribute songs?
Which 9/11 do you remember?