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Saturday, September 10, 2011

What 9/11 means to me

This is a difficult posting to write.

No one ever consciously seeks to be controversial or risks alienating on a topic like 9/11 and that is not my goal. But I've found over the past week when sharing my thoughts privately with others, there is more agreement in my views than I first realized.  So I will express them here in case there's others who feel the same or similar.

Tomorrow obviously is September 11th- 10th Anniversary.  For some reason, being the 10th year of an event means more to many people than say the 3rd or 7th Anniversary.  So on the 10th Anniversary there is a greater need by the media and public officials to commemorate it.

Some will remember 9/11 the proper way-  with quiet reflection and dignity; keeping the thoughts of those who perished into our hearts.  And continue living our lives and going about our day.

And many will remember 9/11 in improper ways-- Filled with heightened crass commercialism and jingoistic "We're #1!! WoooHooo!" idiocy.  And many will treat the solemn day as if it was 4th of July weekend, with exaggerated demonstrations of patriotism and flag waving.

Of course in a free country, that is their right.

And I am also free to say those people are wrong.

When I reflect back on 9/11, I think specifically about the needless loss of life and the families left suddenly without loved ones, especially children without mothers or fathers. That is my personal grief.  I don't think about the Pentagon.   And I do not think at all on the two towers.   I do not concern myself with bricks and mortar.

It is my belief, and I could be wrong though doubt it, that if somehow magically there was not a single loss of life on 9/11 yet the towers fell,  America would still be in deep mourning, as if to believe our national identity is so tied into finance, banking and NYC that any incident even when no human lives are harmed, is akin to an attack on America's soul.

It is also my belief if 3000 lives were tragically lost on 9/11 but no harm came to New York City, that the amount of coverage would be dramatically lessened, Americans would have quickly moved on, and the 10th Anniversary would have been more aligned with how the 10th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City terror attack was treated.  All one has to do is look at media coverage of Hurricane Irene- the sole focus was how NYC and its people would be affected.  Everyone else on the east coast was truly secondary in importance.

I truly will never understand that mindset.  NYC is not the Greatest city in the US, much less the entirety of the world.  It has the largest population of any US city and all the media is centralized there.  And from that combination, comes the myth of NYC being superior to the rest of the nation.  And from that mindset, the deaths in Washington DC become secondary and Shankesville PA, a mere afterthought..

When I reflect back on 9/11 and its aftermath, I also can not help thinking how desperate government was to get people to consume again.  The common tagline back then was if you alter your life,more specifically your consumption or spending habits, you were letting the terrorists 'win'.  Thus if you took a trip to Hawaii, bought a BMW, or maxed out your credit card, you were a "Patriot".

And of course speaking of "Patriot", from 9/11 came the Patriot Act which severely weakened the Constitution and an individual's personal freedoms under the guise of protecting us.  And from 9/11, the beginnings of what is now just about 10 years of non-stop wars and military engagements now currently in 6 nations, all depleting the US Treasury.

I am not a conspiracy theorist.  Never interested me to be one.  And ultimately, no matter who's theories are right as to the Who, How and Why, the event changed the nation and pretty much for the worst.

So tomorrow I am going to try hard to avoid the Rah-Rah! that the NFL will be depicting in their 9/11 celebrations.  And I certainly will be avoiding any speech from any politician, especially a current or former President.  And I will not watch any of the non-stop barrage of psuedo-news specials covering the Anniversary on television.

Instead I will wake up in the morning, pause my routine to quietly reflect and remember, say a prayer for those who perished and give dignity to their memories, then quietly go about my day.