10 Years of Celebrating 9/11


The media's abuzz with talk of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which feels like a party I'm obliged to attend even though I really don't want to go.

Part of my revulsion stems from the fact that celebrating the the birthday of such a terrible event feels profoundly...un-American. Can you think of any other tragedy that we actually celebrate? Again and again, we lionize the evil men who committed this heinous act. I've heard interviews with Mohammad Atta's former roommates on one network, and other journalists are talking about what a coup it is for Obama we finally killed Osama bin Laden, one man that it took nearly a decade to find, one man who started a cycle of violence that goes far beyond himself.

We talk again and again of those who lost their lives on that date, denying families the chance to grieve privately, preventing the nation from moving on from this tragedy.

We focus over and over again on the act itself, and we forget about people, real living people. The first responders, who've finally been given health coverage, still don't have coverage for cancer treatments. I'm thinking about them.

All the people who've lost their lives subsequently, in the name of 9/11, I'm thinking about them.

So why are we celebrating the point when so much ugliness began?

What new lessons does anyone believe we can learn today that we haven't learned in the decade since?

In our discourse, 9/11 has become a destructive entity, a black-hole that denies any meaningful analysis outside of its impact in numbers. Mentioning it precludes any discussion of what led to the attack, and invoking it makes any criticism of ensuing national security policy seem unpatriotic or even treasonous.

We can only repeat the facts: the number of deaths, the names of the ringleaders, even the names of the dead. We've heard these info-bytes so many times now that they've lost all meaning.

We experienced 9/11 and we recovered. Why isn't that the story? We didn't succumb completely to fear, we didn't completely surrender the ideals of our nation, though we have veered dangerously close. Why isn't that the story? The message should be of resilience, not of loss.

I am hopeful that the tenth anniversary puts a period on this era where politicians and pundits used 9/11 to exploit America's greatest moment of weakness. They continue to deny that America is a strong nation, that in the most basic definition of safety, America is safe.

I'm running this post a day early so that all those who actually lost beloved friends or family on that day can mourn in peace. But America should not let herself be defined by one tragic event. When we wake up on 9/12, I hope we all work together to create a new narrative.

I hope that in the next decade we can all focus on rebuilding our economy and enabling those people and institutions that made the U.S. strong - our thinkers, our innovators, our scientists, our artists, our entrepreneurs, our workers, our families, our social workers, our teachers.

In the next decade, I hope we can recognize each and every person as an individual, not as cookie-cutter members of some "group".

I hope that, somehow or the other, we can return to governance based on compassion and human rights instead of governance based on politics.

More than anything, I hope we don't need to talk about 9/11 anymore, that we loosen its vise-like grip from our national consciousness.

The glory years of the United States are not in its past. I believe this. And I believe we can work together for a better future.

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7 Responses to “ 10 Years of Celebrating 9/11 ”

  1. Can you think of any other tragedy that we actually celebrate?

    If you mean on an actual date, eh, probably not. But what do you make of The Holocaust Museum in DC, the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in OKC, and the like? Same thing?

    Don't get me wrong; I agree with most of what you're saying here. It's all so very strange and hard to know where to stand sometimes.

    Re: your black hole comment above, I just read one review (?) of the 9/11 memorial grounds that talked about the two big black holes (aka memorial fountains) as completely hopeless, not hopeful or comforting in any way. Here, if interested: http://www.slate.com/id/2302983/

    Enjoyed reading your post...

  2. I think the date aspect is important in regards to 9/11, as we will have a conglomeration of politicians and other media personalities all weighing in on this event on Sunday, whereas the memorials you mention are just that, they're memorials to let people know that the tragedy won't be forgotten even when the people who lived through those tragedies pass on.

    Thanks for the slate link, I look forward to reading it!

  3. terrible article. 9/11 was an inside job and even if you don't believe the growing alternate media who is pushing for a proper inquiry into the falsity of the official version, to not even acknowledge it is just ignorant. to write of Osama as "one man who started a cycle of violence that goes far beyond himself" is appalling when the only terrorists in this whole debacle are the US government. don't you know the CIA funded the mujahidin camps in Afghanistan?

    the reason we keep talking about it is because we need false propaganda (such as yours) to keep the truth hidden.

    if you actually have any respect for the thousands of deaths you should read up on what really happened that day.

  4. I thought it was a good take on something that has bothered me for a while. I was just talking about this with a coworker today. Neither of us really want to watch the current coverage. For me, it was a sad event, of course. I remember all the chaos of the day and the uncertainty and fear that spread. It isn't a day for celebration in any sense.

    If the nation needs a day of memorial for it, so be it. I do wish we would hear more about how we have persevered, as you say, than how it hurt us. I, too, wish they would let the victims and their families alone. People most closely affected don't need their grief splashed across the front pages and evening news. That really doesn't help...

    -- Peter

  5. good article. i wish there's a like button.

    if it was my blog, i would delete a certain comment.

  6. @Peter Thanks! I thought a lot about this one.

    @playingthedevil that's kind of you to say! I thought about deleting it, but at the moment I feel that trolls are a badge of honor (but that opinion might change if they multiply).

  7. laminatormachine-us19 November 2011 at 02:06

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