Friday, September 11, 2015

As if We Could...

It started last night.

The memes, the photos, the tear-stained memorials.

Little pictures of New York, of a skyline missing two tall buildings, of flags waving, firemen kneeling, dust flying, smoke billowing…

I think we all remember that day.  How could we possibly forget it?  We watched those planes crash and those towers fall, over and over and over and over again.  In living color.  In the comfort of our family rooms.

So we really don’t need to be admonished to “never forget.”  There is no way we could ever forget.

That 2977 innocent, unsuspecting people lost their lives that day is an unthinkable tragedy.  That the families of those people were devastated by that loss compounded the tragedy ten-, twenty-, one hundred-, one thousand-fold.  That the city of New York suffered wounds that would have destroyed a lesser metropolis was a body blow to the entire country.  We don’t have to be told to “never forget” these things.  They will be with us always.

And though I have nothing but heartache for the loss of human life on that day, the thing that I can never forget, the thing that pierces my heart every time I allow myself to look back upon the events of that day, the thing with which I and all Americans must cope, day in and day out, is our changed and wounded nation.  The very fabric of America was so mangled by the events of that day, we live with the lingering damage 24/7/365.  Since 9/11/2001, Americans have faced—some bravely, some in craven fear, some with no thought except how they might be personally enriched by it—life among the ruins.

For me, 9/11 will always bring to mind the core group of cynical, power-hungry individuals who seized upon the opportunity to pervert the shock, fear, grief and anger of the American people into a seemingly bottomless profit-center.  An event that could have—SHOULD have—brought citizens together through acts of bravery, sacrifice and selflessness, encouraging us to reach out, rebuild and strive to heal, was instead turned into history’s greatest opportunity to manipulate a shocked and reeling populace through propaganda, fear-mongering,  finger-pointing and revenge-seeking.  Every negative emotion associated with the tragedy was sought out and exploited, by those who would profit from the bloodlust.  THIS was the most tragic and enduring cost of 9/11.
What we need to ask ourselves today is, who is it that still feels compelled to send out clarion calls to “Never Forget” to a nation of people who couldn’t forget if they dug out their own brains and stomped them into the dirt?  What possible excuse could there be to pull out a spear and poke the wounded dragon once a year on the anniversary of its crippling?

Deep inside—or maybe not so deep, given the pre-election fervor with which we are bombarded every day—I think we all know the answer.   


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