Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Will You Do on Sept. 11?

An article in today's Times discusses two sides of the 9/11 (or worse, 9-1-1) commemoration: go on with life and plan things like celebrations on that day, or mark it solemnly; conduct no business, hold no concerts, volunteer.

I think it's all hypocrisy. We can barely commemorate Martin Luther King's birthday; it's usually a sale day, or the Monday off from work creates an excuse for a Sunday night party. We don't mark the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City (April 19, by the way) or the Columbine shooting (April 20). We don't note the bombing of Hiroshima, where more than 200,000 died at American hands,except through newspaper articles. We don't mark Juneteenth, the day when slaves in Texas learned of their emancipation, several months after the Emancipation Proclamation. We don't have a real reason for President's Day; which used to be two separate days, but lumped together for whatever the reasons.

We pay attention to the things that make us most comfortable. Groups are fighting the International Freedom Center's placement at the World Trade Center memorial site, yet they haven't come out to say anything about rebuilding the site. If it's such hallowed ground, why build anything over it at all? Sacredness didn't stop the new federal courthouse in lower Manhattan from being built over a Negro burial ground, nor did the development of towns and cities over native American burial grounds cease. No, the issue is not about what is holy or sacred. The issue is what will keep anti-American sentiment, which the IFC has insisted will never be a part of its exhibits, minimized, or quashed altogether.

I'll get reamed for this, and that's fine. Each time we lose someone, we reopen the wound caused by their death whenever we recreate, relive, retell the story of their demise. Does the retelling, the replaying of images of that fateful day, make them any less absent? Bring them back? Isn't the re-publishing of the photo of the second plane in proximity of the second tower the same as picking at a scab that hasn't completely healed? Will the wound ever heal?

I believe we should never forget the loss of a loved one. But I also believe that we'll never heal if we don't let them go. They're gone, and aren't coming back. I believe we honor life by living. Living a life filled with pseudo-politeness is hypocrisy. Do you tell your children born on September 11 that they never get to celebrate their lives? Make them feel guilty for living when others died? Do you avoid getting married, celebrating a wedding anniversary? For that matter, we should never laugh, sing, or dance on April 19, April 20, June 19, or August 6.

Let's live. Let's celebrate life. We need to stop romanticizing the deaths that occurred on September 11th. 3000-plus people died needlessly, even the rescue workers who did their jobs. It's bad enough that corporations and governments handed out money to surviving families, as if that would ease the pain of grief. It's bad enough that victims' families get to drag out the nation's grief, and the government puts us in a war we still don't understand. Let's live. Enough already.

2 Comments:

Blogger CrankyProf said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I plan to carry on as usual. I'm not letting the fear-mongering ("What if there's another attack?") and the jingoism ("Let's roll!") interfere.

The best way to show both those who set up the attacks and our beloved *spit* government that I refuse to be a tool of either one of them is to go about business as usual.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous AngryBlackBitch said...

It's on a Sunday, so a bitch will have to avoid the telly...my ass will most likely go to the park or catch a movie. But a bitch will totally avoid the telly because the coverage gets on my nerves. Live and live fully, that's what I plan to do.

BTW, a bitch has a SERIOUS crush on Catherine D. You can't have her!

5:38 PM  

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