The day after the worst terrorist attack on United States soil, the country was scattered in thought yet somehow united in spirit. Six years later, can we really say the same thing? Here are some thoughts I have had over the last six years – memories of anniversary after sad anniversary.
September 17, 2001
For days I had been in an absolute fog. I didn’t know what to think or how I could believe that such a thing had happened to the United States. It seemed untenable and yet there it was, in all its reality. I knew I wouldn’t ever get a chance to see the World Trade Center as it once had stood – let’s face it, not the most beautiful set of buildings in the world.
Plenty of people lived in New York and had never set foot inside one of the buildings – it was just something that tourists did, right? Tourists such as my family – whenever we brought friends who lived in different parts of the world, they would somehow always want to see the World Trade Center. It was a symbol of all things American and yet also stood for all of the nations of the world – hence the word World in World Trade Center.
It was filled with flags of every variety – but more importantly, with people of every variety. It was something that was bringing us closer to the mindset of the world of the Star Trek universe, where all of the countries have already united.
A few days after the attack I began formulating the article that ended up being called An American Tragedy. I was so shocked by the attacks and I had to get out my thoughts and feelings down into words while the attack was still fresh in my mind.
It took several drafts and rewrites but it eventually came together.
September 11, 2002
I wrote an article which you can still find here. I have a vivid memory of the day itself as it was one of the saddest I could remember. For a long time I had a connection between the city and the music of George Gershwin. A month before the anniversary I had a rather sad moment, looking at a pre-attack photograph of the Trade Center while listening to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
The anniversary itself was a little less orchestrated. I was temporarily living back in New Jersey while I waited for an even more temporary – though I didn’t know it then – dwelling in Australia. My family and I mourned the destruction of the towers, as did families around the world. I thought it would surely not be too long before the person primarily responsible for the attacks.
How terribly wrong I have been.
September 11, 2003
I was living on the Upper West Side with my dear friend Joe and honestly, nothing really stands out about the day. There were certainly items of interest on the news all day and programs to commemorate it but I honestly don’t recall.
I didn’t ever write anything in my online journal – you can see that I don’t have anything until the 12th of September and even then I write about John Ritter’s untimely death – how incredibly sad that made me feel.
September 11, 2005
My first 9/11 since moving out to the West Coast. I thought that perhaps this was going to be the thing to make me want to leave Seattle – the memory of the horrible attack on my favorite city in the world. It did no such thing. What did make me really sad on this day was how incredibly short memory is. The way that people that I saw were already less… I don’t want to use the word upset.
I think this was the year that some people were asked what year 9/11 took place and something like one out of every four people got the answer dead wrong. Something is definintely wrong with that picture. I briefly mentioned it in my journal here but you can see I seem to dwell more on other subjects. I guess I just didn’t really want to think about it that much. I think that’s quite obvious from the fact that I spend more time discussing a variation of Rock, Paper, Scissors than the anniversary itself.
Perhaps it had been discussed to the point of overdiscussion? Was that even possible?
September 11, 2007
I think this has definitely been the saddest anniversary of them all so far. I can’t help but think of the fact that six years after the attack on the World Trade Center we still haven’t nailed down the person who is basically responsible for it and yet we as a country have gotten ourselves deeper and deeper into mess after mess.
We have spread ourselves thin and we seem determined to spread ourselves even more. We have let the disaster of Hurricane Katrina hit us and have simply not done enough to make the affected areas properly livable once again. Somehow for us it is more important to get into as many wars as possible. How long will we let this continue?
The other thing that made this anniversary so sad was the fact that it was very clear how weak our collective memory is. Someone on the street tried to get me to give him money on the pretenses that it was September 11th, and he had served in Iraq. How brutally sad that this anniversary could be used in such a foul manner.
I think the bottom line is that it is all up to us to do something and make things right. It seems like if the people that should have gone to fix the damages of Hurricane Katrina have not done so, we should all put some effort into doing so.
Of course the entire country can’t all just get into a minivan and start pounding nails. There are, naturally, other ways to help. We certainly can’t find people in caves from all the way over here. Come to think of it, nobody else has been able to do it, either.
Let us hope for a day when we will be able to look at this sad anniversary and be able to say that eventually we worked it all out.