We live in a polarized world, my friends.
Everything is either black or white. The current president is either the best thing since Christmas morning or the worst abomination on the face of the planet. You are either “fer me or agin’ me”. The commemoration of September 11th is…
Well, what is it? A catharsis of emotions, a tribute to fallen heroes, a thumb to the nose of the terrorists? Or rubbing salt in the wounds, an annoyance to those who wish to move on, a tribute to martyrs? And the question I heard MANY times yesterday – is it time to move on and stop the commemorations every 9/11?
Words are not always easy to write, and although I am not a first responder nor did I lose a family member in the attacks, I do live in the shadow of the towers (figuratively speaking), I did witness (from my car window, driving home from work) building 7 fall at the end of the day and my cousin was actually on the NYC subway below the towers when the first plane hit (he made it safely to the other side, to Brooklyn, but was stuck there after the towers fell), so I have a relatively balanced perspective on the issue. I can tell you that around here emotions still run high, and I also know that in places father afield, many people have the “enough already” expression when the TV coverage turns to 9/11.
So what is right? What should we do?
I’ll tell you, friends. We do exactly what we are doing and let people choose the level of engagement that makes them feel most comfortable. In our small town of Verona, the memorial ceremony was brief (literally 15 minutes), respectful, poignant and powerful, and directly related to the tragedy at large while tied to the immediate loss of two Verona residents. Later I watched some of the CBS News TV coverage of the “reading of the names” in NYC, and it had EXACTLY the same feeling: respectful, poignant and powerful, and directly related to the tragedy at large while tied to the immediate loss of the relatives of the readers. Why in God’s name would we change this? For those who watched any ceremony, local or national, and were moved by it, then good – it was indeed a catharsis of emotions, a tribute to fallen heroes, a thumb to the nose of the terrorists. For those who could not bear to watch or had no interest, also good – they stayed home, turned off the TV, folded the morning paper, and that’s fine as well. For those who wanted to attend a ceremony but could not for work-related or personal reasons, there were plenty of opportunities for quiet contemplation throughout the day. In the end, those who felt “enough, already” could go on about their day, while those who needed a powerful yet respectful memorial ceremony had that opportunity, and thus calling for the government to “stop making such a big deal about 9/11″ makes no sense. Many of us still NEED these ceremonies to remind us, strengthen us and heal us, and as long as this need still exists, the ceremonies must continue.