I Wasn’t, But I Am: Reflections Six Years Later

I wrote this post exactly one year ago. I am going to resurrect this post from my old blog, because it is still relevant today:
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I wasn’t, but I am. I am not writing in the usual overheard and overused sense of “September 11, we must never forget.” I am not one to forget. But, I am not one to reiterate, abuse, say something shallowly, or do something because tradition dictates, and not put any heart or sentiment into it.

One would think that being so close, being able to see the smoke, smell the smoke, going through the long hassles of security, and having heightened feelings of irritability and cautiousness for months to come would mark this day as a dreadful one. No, not really. Not to say this in an apathetic or malevolent way, but I’m over it. I’m over it in a sense that it’s not an anniversary for me, I don’t contemplate it. I’m only reminded when the day comes around, or when I’m around Ground Zero, which has only been about twice or three times since then.

People say September 11 brings us closer as Americans. I frankly doubt that. Perhaps only when it happened, but now it seems like an artificial, obligatory “patriotic” duty. People also want to claim equal trauma, and I say this in regards to people who don’t live or work in New York City, in Arlington, VA, or near the area where Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. It’s just not the same as being in the immediate area.

I can’t even claim equal trauma as those who were in the towers, in Century 21 across the street, or the surrounding buildings. My cousin worked in one of those buildings and left the area as soon as the first plane hit. The things that she witnessed as she attempted to leave the area left her traumatized and with insomnia for a good while. I can never relate. I can’t relate with a high school friend who was struck on the head by failing debris as she exited the subway and woke up several hours later to find herself lying on a hospital bed. I can’t relate with those who lost loved ones and were never able to identify their bodies, because there was never anything to recuperate. It would be ridiculous for me to claim equal footing, and it would be further ridiculous for those not living or working in the areas of impact or for those who did not lose a loved one.

I walked into Duane Reade today, and looked at the greeting cards section to see if they were any “September 11” greeting cards. I was relieved when I didn’t. I think what’s pissing me off is the “hallmarkfication” of September 11. I could picture it right now: Ground Zero, crowds upon crowds walking through, a high volume of tourists on this particular day, posing in front of the site, taking pictures, and vendors all around selling September 11 memorabilia. The towers are plastered on postcards, clocks, t-shirts, pins, banners, coins and statues. It has become a marketing paradise. The site has become a sight-seeing tour; one of the need-to-visit destinations when in New York City. I hardly think that those who were there that morning, or lost loved ones, see it as such. I definitely do not.

What needs to rise out of this is a need of respect. Respect in the sense that people need to step back for a moment and realize that not all have the same perspective of what happened on that day. Not everyone can claim equal trauma. September 11 cannot manifest into a national holiday, because it is not a national event. Yes, it happened in the United States; it was an attack on U.S., but it occurred in New York City, Arlington, VA, and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Not everyone can claim the same sorrow, the same injuries, the same lost. When the familiar question “where were you when the attacks on September 11 occurred,” is asked, more than 99% of the population will not say that they were there; they will not say that they were trying to call or were waiting for loved ones to call to see if they managed to get out; they will not say that they had to walk several miles home because all public transportation stop exiting and entering Manhattan or because they had to leave their cars behind because the tunnels and bridges were closed off; and they will not say that they were still waiting by the phone by the end of the night because they didn’t know if their loved ones were dead or alive. It’s just not the same.

Respect needs to be shown to those who died on that day, to their families, to those who were there and survived, to those who risked their lives to save the lives of others, and demand that proper justice be achieved. It cannot become just another highlighted and meaningless holiday on the calendar.

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~ by Luci-Kali on September 11, 2007.

 
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