An Awkward Anniversary
The anniversary of 9/11 is just a few weeks away. As it gets closer and closer, I’m wondering what we’re supposed to do on that day. This will be the first anniversary of that horrible tragedy and no matter how we remember that day, it will be awkward.
On December 7th each year we’re reminded on our calendars and by the services that are held at Pearl Harbor, of the Japanese surprise attack there. In similar fashion, around the world we remember historic dates such as D-Day, the date certain wars ended, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated and other historic milestones in time. But remembering these history altering events is usually not a festive celebration.
Remembering 9/11 though, regardless of how our nation deals with this, will be unique and unlike any other remembrance in history.
It caused all of us, for the first time, to fear for our very existence. Whatever you were doing when you watched that first tower burn (I thought my son and I were eyewitnesses to an unimaginable plane crash and major aviation mistake), and then wondered why another plane had appeared on your TV screen, especially when one plane had just hit one of the towers, and then you saw that second plane deliberately strike the second tower, and then moments later saw those two monoliths of construction magic come crashing down and evaporate into dust, killing all but a few who were inside, and then before we could digest this, hear that the command post of our entire military system had also been hit, and finally, learn that there was a third plane headed west that had made an unusual turn back toward the east and was now headed straight toward Washington D.C, – we started fearing for our very existence.
This lack of confidence in our capability to possibly carry on was a first-time experience for me. In my recollection of how we’ve handled world events, no matter how large the magnitude, I have always assumed that the United States WAS invincible and invulnerable. I’ve never honestly thought for a second that any world event was beyond the United States handling it.
But on 9/11 last year these tragic events that happened one after the other so close in time, and without any visible defensive response (after all, the Pentagon where we would assume our most powerful response would come from, had itself been hit and was dealing with its own dying and wounded), left me with a chilling, empty feeling that we’ve been fooling ourselves -we’re not invincible, we’re not invulnerable.
So on 9/11, just a few short weeks away from now, I don’t know how I will think back about that day. It will definitely be awkward. Since a year has separated us from that shocking day, we’ve had time to do what we sometimes do with similar events- analyze them to death. From the obvious of needing to stamp out terrorism wherever it shows up, to the insincere thoughts that we actually caused this to happen ourselves, one thing should remain clear.
If we want to continue to enjoy the freedom to even have different opinions as to the root of why this day happened, then we need to remember 9/11 as one of the most awkward and unfamiliar days of our lives. In that, we should all be in agreement.