Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11

I'm not sure there's anything more to say about it. It shocked us, it saddened us, it happened. For months after we were all freaked out and scared and so we plastered flags all over the country. Where did all the flags go, I often wonder? I guess the basements of America are now filled with flags. In my basement, I have the commemorative 9/11 box of tissues I purchased at a mini-mart a couple of weeks later. Part of me couldn't believe that the event was being milked to sell tissues, and part of me knew that only in this country could an act of terrorism be turned into a marketing strategy.

How could we know, in the middle of shock and grief, the ways that event would change our world? At the time we couldn't see the wars to follow, one necessary and one useless. We couldn't see the ways a Presidency would be transformed, our government hardened. We couldn't see thousands of our servicepeople killed, thousands more returning home with PTSD, couldn't see that our relationship with a distant part of the world was damaged in ways armed might can't combat and probably still can't see that, even eight years later when war feels perpetual.

We said we'd never forget - the tissue box proclaims that in large type - but then except for this one day a year we did forget. Our President told us to go shopping, so we all took out subprime mortgages and bought houses in exurbs. We all went on with our lives, as survivors do. The world has changed not only because years have passed but because the events of that day helped to change it. It's important to take a minute to remember what happened and those who perished not only to honor them but to see clearly, even if just for a moment, where we are and how we got here.

The 21st century began eight years ago today.

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