This ten-year mark of the September eleventh attacks will be a little different than the prior nine.
What’s sure to be an emotional unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will happen this Sunday morning of September 11 2011. It has been a long-awaited and intricately planned project to say the least. Granted, these are my words. I realize there are no ‘appropriate’ words to use to describe the attack itself, it’s Memorial nor the intense emotions that run so deep when one thinks back to that fateful day ten years ago.
This past weekend I watched a 2-hour special on the years of work leading up to the completion of the 9/11 Memorial Site and Museum. All the time, effort and respect shown by everyone involved was nothing short of an amazing story. It had it all – love, grief, courage, oneness. Such an important word in the continued endeavor to heal – ONENESS. I believe the generations that went through these attacks will be working to heal for the rest of their lives.
To me, there could be no more appropriate memorial than this beautiful one that took so long to conceptualize and create. Two seemingly ‘endless’ pools sit on the area where the Twin Towers once stood. They are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The large pool of the initial waterfall spawns a second small one in the center which appears to cascade infinitely into the earth. The surrounding bronze panels edging the pools are carefully inscribed with the names of every person who perished in both the 2001 and 1993 attacks. I can’t imagine there being many dry eyes for those citizens witnessing the unveiling of this Memorial, whether in person or on television.
I’ve been told more than once that I ‘dwell’ too much on the most horrific terror attack in modern history. My answer to that is and always will be, so be it. One time when I brought it up to a close friend, I was dismissed with I never want to think about it again – it’s too horrible. It’s something that’s already happened and in the past now. As much as I still love this person, I’ll never forget the impact of hearing those words. Just mere days after the attack, when airplanes had yet to be given clearance to fly in our skies again – my ex husband told me I can’t watch any more of this, I’ve had it. From then on, just about everything else I watched had to be on my own time – adjusted around other shows which seemed to take precedence over 9/11. Again, so be it. I can report with much confidence that I did continue seeking information, and by the grace of God, I got it.
I’ve said this before but feel it bears repeating – I’d rather have nightmares about 9/11 every night for the rest of my life than to ever to forget about it. It’s true each of us are different, and we all have our own ways of dealing with tragedy. I realize this post is only one person’s views of the lasting effects from the largest loss of life from a foreign attack in the US so far. But let us not confuse the term ‘morbid dwelling’ with somber respect and remembrance. The act of remembering September 11th isn’t just black or white – equally as important are the shades of grey in between.
It is a day of somber remembrance for every American. A day which we should take every opportunity to be thankful for our lives, our freedom and our God-given rights as an American citizen.
Oh, how I do love a good writer. Since the day I found this, I’ve waited almost a whole year to repost it. I wanted to repost it on the very day that would collide with it’s memory… that most fateful day in American History.
September 11, 2001.
Leonard Pitts, a 2004 Pulitzer Prizewinning columnist of the Miami Herald, gained national recognition for this widely circulated column that ran on that most bleak and numb day of September 12, 2001. Please, if you’ve never read this, take a minute. Listen, learn and remember.
We’ll Go Forward From This Moment
It’s my job to have something to say. They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.
You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.
What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.
Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.
Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.
Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.
Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae – a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though – peaceful, loving, and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.
Some people — you, perhaps — think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.
Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.
But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.
I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.
In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.
THE STEEL IN US
You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.
So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that’s the case, consider the message received.
And take this message in exchange:
-You don’t know my people.
-You don’t know what we’re capable of.
-You don’t know what you just started.
But you’re about to learn.
©Leonard Pitts, September 12, 2001