11 September 2013

My thoughts about today's anniversary

Tomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

I have written about it in the past, both my reflections of the day and what I hope to tell my children about it. But today I want to express a different take on the importance of this day, inspired by Bill's post, Sept. 11, 2001.

In the post, Bill explains that on a visit to Ground Zero, he was at first angry that people passed the site as just another place in the world that holds no real significance. He says:
It was almost as if the pictures of twisted metal, smoke and crushed bodies never existed.
As I started to process that fact, my mood shifted again.
I realized these people were doing something special. No matter where they were going or what they were thinking, they were moving--living--horrific memories be damned.
They were doing what we all should be doing, living each day to the full instead of cowering in fear in the corner. 
Doing so honors the dead and says F-U to those who destroyed those towers and wish we would all stay scared. 
This is the specific aspect of Bill's post I want to talk about.

For a long time after September 11, 2001, I was firmly in the "never forget" camp. And while I know I will never forget what happened--nor will, I imagine, anyone else who was conscious of the day--I have shifted my focus somewhat.

Initially, my "never forget" perspective was a "never move on" perspective. This event was the first event like it in my life (that I was old enough to understand at the time). My young mind could not understand how anyone could move forward after such a tragedy. It was my first what the fuck is going on in this world moment. So it was hard for me to conceive of an America in which that day was "something that happened."

But Bill's post explains very well why it's important that we do think of it as "something that happened." It doesn't take away from the tragedy, it doesn't dishonor those who lost their lives that day.

But terrorism by its very definition is meant to scare people into coercion. If we don't move on, their goals are accomplished.

So I'll think of the families and friends who are missing loved ones even more today. I'll light a candle in remembrance of those lost and those who worked so tirelessly to help.

But I will also go about my day as I will tomorrow. I will not hide or be afraid. I will live.

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