We must never forget September 11th, 17 years ago today.
Though maybe we should try to remember just what it is we should be remembering.
It’s been 17 years. Certainly we can’t still act like it only just happened, though individuals may have their own feelings about it still, particularly if they were present at the attack sites or lost a loved one. After all, people who are now the age I was at the time would have no memory of it. I do remember it. I was in college. But, this far out, what does observing today mean? Some have declared it a day of service, and today some new memorials are being unveiled and ceremonies are taking place. There can be a certain connection to one’s own emotions to recall such horrific events.
But I think what we need to remember is what happened afterward. The healing, for one. The Pentagon has been repaired. The rubble has been cleared, and there are two memorial pools where the towers stood, beside the new tower, One World, which I visited two years ago.
I remember how I felt about the attack, sure. But I also remember the foreboding, wondering what would happen after this. And what did happen. There was big stuff like the “war on terror” and increased airport security and the Patriot Act. There was also the often violent scapegoating of Muslims and anyone who looked like them, with serious concerns over whether we’d see a return of internment camps. There was how for days after the attack all media outlets had turned into 24 hour news channels, disrupting usual entertainment to run footage of the attacks and George W Bush’s speeches over and over. There was how for months after the attack everything seemed to allude to us living in a “time of terror”. There was a marked increase in showy patriotism, with, once they started playing music again, radio stations playing songs like God Bless the USA all the time, and avoiding certain others. There was the insinuation that if you objected to or questioned any of this in the slightest, then you’re letting the terrorists win.
When the attacks happened, we were shocked and hurt and looking for answers. We were vulnerable.
And in the time that followed, our vulnerability was exploited.
We were kept scared while being told we were brave. We were told they could never take our freedom while we allowed our freedom to get taken by those telling us this. Our fear and anger were encouraged by those who found it useful.
And suddenly September 11th was the go-to excuse for everything for any agenda no matter how remotely if at all linked, from the War in Iraq to some truly shameless anti-drug campaigns.
I wouldn’t worry about forgetting the attacks happened. You won’t forget that.
What we must never forget is that ultimately the best way to honor those lost on that dreadful day is to heal and move on, at our own pace. And to not get swindled into supporting even more atrocities and loss of civil liberties in their name.