Monday, September 5, 2011

Notes On A Decade

Next Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of September 11th. There is a ton of stuff on television, and lots of stuff written about what it meant to America, questions about whether or not we are any safer, and weepy-waily op/ed pieces on heroics ad nauseum.

September 11th was not an abstract event for me and my family. On my dad’s side, the Cantor in Cantor-Fitzgerald was family and even though BG was already gone, other family members still had business in that building. On my mother’s side, Arthur was at Fred Alger, and Kenny, his son was, oddly enough at Cantor Fitzgerald. I would later learn a friend from my college days was on American Airlines flight 11. Another friend who worked in the Pentagon happened not to be at work that day because he was moving into a new house and that kept him out of harm's way. And my childhood best friend, who would've been arriving in the WTC Path station at that time, was delayed at home because her daughter barfed on her on the way to school. 

Rodin: the hand that survived
Michael Falco for The New York Times

I was here in Minnesota watching it all from a surreal distance. For days and days, when I wasn’t at my job as a corporate travel agent trying to secure hotel rooms and rental cars because planes weren’t flying and people wanted to get home to their families, I watched the planes hit the towers over and over and over. I was haunted by the knowledge that Kenny called his wife to say he was on his way down the stairs and would stop to find his dad. Neither ever emerged from the rubble.

The videos and constant rehashing went on and on and on. I hated them all. I hated people who talked about it even though they knew nothing. I hated the people who spouted off about how they once saw the twin towers so they understood New Yorkers' feeling when clearly they had no clue. Our home town had been attacked, our friends and relatives and neighbors had disappeared in a cloud of flame and ash. We could barely understand our feelings.  

And then for reasons which still manage to escape me, President Bush started a war in Iraq. Iraq had nothing to do with this. Then he started a war against Afghanistan. Even the screenwriters of THE PRINCESS BRIDE knew enough to say, “Never start a land war in Asia.” The one objective, to find Osama bin Laden, went unmet for a decade. 

Every year on 9/11 I cringe as the baloney starts up all over again. The uproar over a Muslim community center and mosque several blocks away from the pit that was once the WTC was disgusting. Would anyone have said such a thing to a church or synagogue group? The TSA is an alien entity unto itself, humiliating old ladies and terrifying children yet they are unable to find the “weapons” hidden and sent through the detection process to test their abilities. We spent the blood of tens of thousands of young men and women in pointless, expensive wars...for what purpose? Are we really any safer?

We have honored the memory of those who perished in the towers, on the planes, in Pentagon, and two absurd wars with a completely hamstrung, dysfunctional government more interested obstructionism than in America. I know I am not the only one repulsed by the grotesque parade of political hatespeech that permeates the airwaves and the halls of Congress in equal amounts.

 There are thousands of us who have lost loved ones in the aftermath.  Not everyone wants to talk about it, or relive it publicly, or even watch the tributes on TV. Why would we? Ten years later, they can't even get their act together to build a new building. Those television specials are depressing in the worst way because they point out we have accomplished nothing in the years since the attacks. 

I prefer to remember the last time I saw Arthur ...sitting across from me in the dining room of my parents' house on Long Island. Alive.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Unless you are a terrorism survivor yourself,
do not attempt to tell a New Yorker who sat for days on end clutching a cell phone, 
terrified every time it rang that there would be more bad news, 
that you understand what he/she felt. 
You don't. 


  1. Thank you! Well said! Too bad the Media machine isn't going to reflect with such class!

  2. I'm glad someone else feels the same way. It was horrible, sad, the worst, but reliving it over and over won't make the pain go away. I wonder how they would've covered Pearl Harbor if it happened today? (But at least we got involved in a meaningful war after that.)

  3. Paying tribute is a personal thing. Any other way may be embellishing something morbid. Hard to say, it brings alot of mixed feelings. But I know that my visit to ground zero last week was something I was so compelled to do, that I did it on my own. I didn't want anyone else to come with me unless they felt they needed to.


  4. Simon spent 30 years capturing more than 50,000 images of the World Trade Center.

  5. Regarding the above link to al Jazeera - I watched it and this guy is a wonder. It was hard to watch the WTC images. If you are a lover of the art of the photograph, do sit through it.

  6. Thank you for this entry. You convey my feelings and thoughts perfectly. I believe 9/11 has been exploited by so many and in so many ways.
    Very bad people have used it to start wars, use torture, and make lots and lots of money. Not to mention allowing our country that we thought was to be free and open as a society become a secretive and fearful one steeped in paranoia.
    Sometimes watching the maudlin comments of politicians and so called news people make is so hard for me to even breath.
    Mary in NH.

  7. Another vote of thanks for your reflections and the sense they show. I won't turn on TV or radio today. I spent years visiting the WTC because my mother worked there; I cried in the cab when I came back to NYC years after 9/11 because the absence of that huge landmark was like a physical blow (like someone had simply removed a mountain from one's childhood landscape -- yes, intellectually I knew it was gone, but all of a sudden I was re-entering my home town and something vast was just *gone*). A ceremony, a remembrance, yes -- this weeks-long buildup to a media frenzy, yuck. Thanks for saying.