With all the media coverage about today's tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I have been uncomfortably aware that this day was approaching. We see slogans like "Never forget" and "We remember" and while I appreciate their fierce determination, I don't see how anyone who experienced those days firsthand could ever possibly forget. On the contrary, a part of me wants to forget, or at least wants to avoid reopening the wounds caused by that day.
Those days in September 2001 were horrifying. That horror feels fresh. And in the wake of 9/11 came new, subtler horrors: uncertainty about how to live in this post-9/11 world; guilt and anger at the mistakes we made in the days following 9/11; frustration at our inability to prevent another massacre from happening again; the painful struggle between the normal human instinct to avoid danger and our determination not to let evildoers rob of us our way of life, or the pleasure we take in our freedoms.
As much as I want to forget, though, I can't. And I won't, because the people who died on that day deserve to be remembered. The goofy red-headed guy who used to stumble down our hall freshman year and once peed into the drain of a broom closet thinking he was in a bathroom. The sort of shy but sweet guy who took me to a semi-formal in college and whose friendship I would appreciate a lot more now that I'm not an dopey 18-year-old fascinated with the college party scene. Both died in the Twin Towers. Tom's cousin who works at the Pentagon and survived because he had a doctor's appointment that day, but carries that survivor's guilt as he remembers the friends and colleagues he lost. The incredible passengers of Flight 93 who learned what was going on in midair, and instead of doing something understandable, like praying (or drinking all the booze from the flight attendant's cart, which would have been my choice), decided that they would use their own deaths to spare their fellow citizens. The first responders who put thoughts of their own safety second, as they, incredibly, headed into the collapsing buildings to help survivors.
None of them deserved to die. All of them deserve to be remembered.
I tried so hard to come up with some thoughtful and meaningful way to end this blog post. But I don't know how to make sense of a senseless event. So I'll just wish you all peace.