9/11 – 17 Years On

“No Day Shall Erase You from the Memory of Time”

Once the true horror of the attacks of September 11, 2001 became clear, once the magnitude of the attack, of the hate, of the vengeance against the West, had awakened us all, a true and gripping sense of community poured out. We saw it in the American flags so many in the States wore on their lapels, hung from poles, or secured magnetically to their bumpers. We saw it in the silence that followed, in the acceptance and warmth of neighbor to neighbor. In the support for our first responders, who had so much to lose and lost even more.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Sadly, what brought out the best in us, also brought out the worst. The acceptance and warmth of neighbors turned to suspicion and violence for some. For too many. Rather than truly pull together, some among us chose to wage their own attacks on people they deemed responsible. That suspicion and rage lingers still, all these years later, most noticeably from the people who are supposed to lead us, to assure us, but who have, of late, chosen to divide us.

Of course we can never assume 9/11 was an anomaly, a catastrophe the likes of which will never happen again. But neither was that sense of community, of a shared experience. That’s part of what America is about–an awareness and appreciation of our diversity, commonality in our unique experiences. That’s what has always been the secret to America’s “greatness”.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum displays, in rich profound detail, the many faces of NYC and her neighbors. People who worked here, lived here, protected here, came here to help in any way possible. During a recent tour of the museum, I was struck by the varied accents heard on recordings captured that day–of voice messages left for loved ones, of first responders calling out to their units, of reporters and witnesses.

I live here in NYC. I hear a wide variety of languages and accents daily, so much so that I no longer notice them. But while there, in the museum, listening to one account after another in full-throated and brusque New York-ese, in broken English, in Spanish, in a New England drawl and other accents not so easily identifiable, I felt at home. One among many. Sharing the same memories, the same pain, the same hope for a better future.


Scenes from The New York Memorial at Ground Zero:

Ladder 3

North Tower Antenna

 

The magnificent work of artist, Spencer Finch, titled: “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning”. Each of the squares of Fabriano Italian paper that make up this piece is hand-painted a different shade of blue. There are 2,983 squares/shades in all–one for each person killed in the 1993 WTC bombing and on 9/11.

 

A 9/11 Memorial in New Paltz, New York – about 90 minutes north of the city:


Never Forget

Every year, on the anniversary of this heartbreaking day, we come together to remember those who perished. We remember their lives, their sacrifices and their humanity. In doing so, in standing together in remembrance, we’re reminded of the bond we have as citizens of this world. How I wish that understanding, that bond, held during our every-day existence and not just in times of tumult and pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to 9/11 – 17 Years On

  • This was a nice post if not somewhat rose-colored. I found it while looking for information about the 9/11 museum and I was taken by this line: “In standing together in remembrance, we’re reminded of the bond we have as citizens of this world.” That’s true for the people who stand with bowed heads but not for people who turn away on purpose, or who have no concern or memory of the event, or who do but scoff at it. You said also: “I felt at home. One among many. Sharing the same memories, the same pain, the same hope for a better future.” That’s a romantic idea but it isn’t reality. The people you heard shared the memories and pain, but other people share other memories and other pain, and their hope for a better future is probably very different from yours. I’m not mocking you, but I am pointing out it isn’t enough to listen to people who share the same memories or goals. To create bonds that last in good and bad, we have to find ways to build and maintain bridges that cross rough waters.

    • Wow. Thank you for stopping by, Martin. I’m happy to know this post came up on a search about the museum.

      I do appreciate your point of view on this and I actually agree with you. Of course there’s a ‘however’ here…

      However, what I referred to in this post, about the various people coming together with the same memories, wants and needs, was specifically about the memory of 9/11. How people of all walks of life were touched by those attacks and yet, in those moments – and, in fact, forever – they/we will be united by that experience.

      I suppose what I was trying to say is that there are so many other things that unite us — love of family, hope for a better future, the need for shelter and security — that should bind us together whether we’re strangers, neighbors or family. Maybe that is rose-colored, but I think if we whittled away our differences, we’d appreciate those similarities even in those who would scoff or turn away from our otherwise-shared horror. The similarities could be the starting point, the foundation if you will, toward the building of the bridges you speak of.

      BUT…if those of us with more similarities than not turn (or are turned) against one another, then I see only crumbling foundations and sabotaged steel.

      It takes effort, sticktoitiveness and teamwork to build solid bridges. We have the means to build them. Whether we have the desire to do so is another story.

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