Two years ago, on the eve of the eighth anniversary, I proposed that we ‘return’ 9/11 to America, and to Americans. I thought then that we should consider moving on – not that we should forget, because there’s no way that will happen – but that we allow the day to have all of the myriad emotions, circumstances and possibilities that all other days are afforded, including happy ones.
At the time I wrote the post, (read it here ) I was thinking about a friend whose birthday falls on 9/11, and how difficult it was for him to have a ‘normal’ birthday, without feeling guilty about having fun on what had become such a dark day for us. After all, it’s hard to imagine behaving normally on a day when so many lost their lives, when so many had their lives forever changed, when the path of our country was so dramatically changed.
Today, I watched the coverage of the anniversary ceremonies in New York, Washington, and Shanksville. I listened as the names of the innocent were read aloud, by their moms and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends and strangers. My emotions (and tears) swelled listening to Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, and Paul Simon perform their particular magic. I was transfixed by Amazing Grace, so beautiful on the solo flute, and so different emotionally from the more traditional bagpipes.
But perhaps the most moving of all were the comments not of the politicians and talking heads but of the children of the victims, and how in an almost quintessentially American way, they have made their very difficult lives worthwhile since 9/11. Living up to the memories of those they lost; making sure to be worthy of the sacrifice; to make sure their lives will make a difference. Not only so that people don’t forget, but so that people can feel comfortable moving forward.
For me, they are the reason to move forward.
We can mourn the innocence lost on 9/11/01, but ten years later on 9/11/11, while celebrating the lives of those who perished, we should more importantly celebrate the lives of those who carry forward their memories and ideals, and celebrate the resilience of the American spirit.