Monday, September 11, 2023

More Than One Way


Some people need to tell the stories - - to tell them, and retell them - - year after year. Some people seek out the commemorative programs on television that show the horrific film footage again and again. Everyone responds differently to grief and horror.

Probably the biggest thing that divides us in this day is whether or not we have a personal connection to the events of 9/11/2001. If we don’t I suspect the day is one that passes with sadness and the continued disbelief that this kind of thing could happen. If we do it is a searing fire of trauma experienced and relived.

I can never never truly know what that kind of pain is like. I am grateful for that. But I also feel guilty when this day comes around because others suffered so much and I was spared. Why them? Why not me? (Thank God not me!) And over and over again as the years roll by. 

You are likely to see heartwarming pieces today about how the whole nation came together after 9-11. This is not the truth. We don’t talk as much about those in this country for whom this day was the beginning of a time of fear. In grief and rage many turned against anyone who even vaguely looked like the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks. Or what they thought a person like that looked like. If 9-11 gave many Americans the sick dread of realization that we are not as safe as we think we are, it also gave whole swaths of our population the knowledge that they might never be safe here again.

Are all the commemorations of this day reminders for them of those early days when it felt as though an entire nation turned against them? There are no special ceremonies for that. No comforting words. I imagine it is a lonely kind of grief.

And so each of us does the best that we can, remembering, grieving, or even trying to forget. There is no one perfect, appropriate way to grieve. If we cannot agree on anything else perhaps we could agree on that.

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