It’s hard to gather my thoughts for 9/11.
There’s no point in scribbling down my personal remembrances. Those of us alive and aware at the time all have our own. We’ve shared them before.
I don’t like reliving that day. No one does.
I don’t like remembering what it was like to hear my father – a native New Yorker – when I called him and told him to change the channel, because someone had called me as I was setting up for work (in a toy store) to say that a plane had hit the WTC. He was retired and watching TV in the morning, the lucky sort.
He switched to a news channel from whatever he was watching – likely the History Channel – and I heard his reaction to the second plane hitting a tower. It’s hard to describe the tone of his voice in that moment. My dad didn’t even want us to see him after his heart surgery until the breathing tubes had been removed.
Traumatic cultural moments become a strong connective tissue that reminds us to recognize not just each others’ basic humanity but our commonality. Our sameness.
It’s odd to be alive and see that it has a limited effect – I guess Pearl Harbor did too, after all – and to watch it fade in real time.
There had been hijackings and bombings before. What we never realized was that there were psychopaths willing to die in the process themselves.
The one infuriating thing is to watch half-educated fools latch onto conspiracy theories about 9/11. It constantly infuriates me.
These fools demean the memory of the people who died. I remember having to explain to someone that all the security measures you see today – the TSA Security Theater – didn’t exist before 9/11. They had been reasoning it all as if it did.
We all were gripped with irrational fears after the event. We jumped at shadows. Urban myths were born and spread like wildfire about how gas station pumps were being rigged with poison needles. Stories spread about people who miraculously survived jumping from the WTC (they were never true).
It’s only worse now with social media.
Thank goodness Instagram wasn’t invented back then. People would have done “serious pose” photo shoots to get likes. Thank goodness Twitter wasn’t around. Thank goodness Facebook wasn’t a thing.
Funny how the thoughts travel to how detrimental social media is to cultural conversations.
If there’s one lesson that I hope this year, more than others, people would walk away with about 9/11/2001: The world didn’t end then, and it isn’t ending now. Don’t let fear cloud your view.
Honor those who’ve died by living.