Yesterday was September 11. Ask anybody who knows me, and they’ll tell you it’s a day I dread every year. Typically I avoid watching the news, or spending any time on social media so I can spare myself the infinite loop of horrific video clips enjoined to platitudes like “never forget”. It’s not that I disagree with the intentions, or have no appreciation for the sentiment. I just find it ludicrous that anyone who was alive and conscious of the events of Sept 11, 2001 could ever forget them. For those who, like me, lost friends and loved ones, the platitudes and videos serve as a morbidly flashback to a pain that’s immeasurable.
Yesterday was, like most other years, a self imposed media blackout for me. However, I did spend a lot of time thinking about it. After questioning my aversion to the sanguine displays of “rememberance”, something occured to me.
It’s been 18 years since that terrible morning. We have been in mourning for 18 years. In that time, things have changed drastically. Children who weren’t even born yet on that day are now adults. Some have kids of their own. Some have died. Entire lifetimes have occurred since the day our world was upended by jihadist hatred.
And so it is, my realization. While yes, I most certainly grieve the loss of the friends I lost, there’s a loss that is far greater, and it’s an untreated wound that becomes more and more septic with each passing year.
In the days and weeks following the attacks, the talking heads on television couldn’t seem to help themselves from telling us any number of things to avoid doing in an effort to prevent “the terrorists from winning”. That trope became a running joke. Its one that now, 18 years later, seems far less funny.
On the morning those jihadists boarded those planes, they did so praying that they would strike a crushing blow to our country.
The immediate response was, quite understandably, shock. We were traumatized and near catatonic. We were pulled from our state of shock because now we had a purpose. For some, it was the need to help search for survivors. Others sent much needed supplies, or worked in call centers. Many flooded military recruiting stations.
An unconscionable act of terror intended to destroy us only managed to unify us in a common purpose.
The following week after the attacks there was a backorder in stores for American flags. It seemed every yard, pickup truck and storefront had a flag proudly displayed. Patriotism and pride was seen and felt all across the country.
But, sadly, time go by, and things change. With each passing year, we lose more victims from that day. The hotblooded emotion has tempered, and patriotism is no longer popular. There is no longer a backorder to by a flag.
“Never forget” has a much bigger meaning to me now. It’s not about the day. Nobody could ever forget the day. For me it’s about what came after. It’s about the time we cast out all our differences and came together as a country.