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Distant: That Night (9/11)

This weekend, on the approach to the decade-after mark of the 9/11 attacks, has been steeped in endless looking-backward media coverage - too much of it, for my tastes; I feel as if the act of looking back and caring has become almost an obsession, rather than an act of tenderness, and that the flurry of being-there-now is replacing the actual event itself. I wonder if this is what all trauma feels like, a decade after the fact, or if the nation is seizing upon this in a way that is getting a little weird.

 

For me, those feelings - helpless, inspired, angry, poised, fragile - are more of a memory than a reality. I wish there were an open conversation on the effects of 9/11, rather than another look back at the day itself. Then, we were wounded; now, as a nation and a people, we need help. We are angry, stretched thin, suspicious, and preyed upon by fringe figures - candidates, preachers, media heads - we once would have identified, correctly, as mental cases. We wanted healing, and we got scarring instead.

 

I was glad that our SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden this year. It settled something. Not on a vast scale, but it was a button that needed pushing: more symbolic than literal, and necessary. With that done, and with a memorial built on the dead plot of Ground Zero, and a new building rising where the Twin Towers once stood, my hope for the year ahead is that we can begin to heal. We need that.

 

As I post this, Paul Simon is singing "Sound of Silence" at the ceremony.

 

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Taken on September 11, 2010