peace - love - reason

Jill Of All Trades

Response to the Sixth Anniversary of 9/11

11.9.07 by literaghost

(Written for a section of my Peace Studies class.)

9-11 TributeYes, it's really been that long. Stop rhetorically asking, already. You know it's been that long. You can feel it. You can see it in our eyes - we're already weary of trying to summon the old heartache that just won't come anymore. We're weary of trying to remember what we were doing when we found out the news, making it the Kennedy Assassination on our generation's cultural timeline.
All the same, I discover myself still trying. I'm saddened, but not particularly surprised, to find that my memory's hazy, frayed, and fragmented. At times it resembles a threadbare and moth-eaten patchwork quilt. Maybe I'm holding on to it for sentimental value (could it be my security blanket?), but it could never have much practical use now.

What do I remember? I remember taking a break from my piano practice to go into the kitchen, and the kitchen TV was on. It had been several hours after it actually happened. The news was frenzied, and jumbled, and repetitive. My parents had to explain what was going on. They did so simply and to-the-point, although they were doubtlessly as clueless or confused as I was. My aunt Kathy (now buried somewhere in Monticello) called us about it, wondering if we knew, if the news was on here - that TV again. Was I numb then, or am I just numb now?
I remember feeling frightened for our Muslim neighbors, who lived at the corner of the cul-de-sac, whose younger children played games in the street with the others and whose older daughters walked to school in their headscarves and backpacks. I had been studying American history that year. I remembered all too well what had happened to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor fever.
Ahh, the Majesty of the Corporate FlagI remember a sudden blooming of red, white, and blue. Stars threatened to blind me; stripes reached to ensnare me in their candy-cane tentacles. (Maybe the Libyan family would have avoided harassment if they swathed their heads in Old Glories?) People set up booths outside of the mall, selling flags on dowel rods to "support the families of 9/11 victims." My mother bought a few. The money never got where it was supposed to.
The first Sunday after, my mother insisted we go to church. We hadn't gone in months. Now, in her mind, it was "the right thing to do." I don't remember the service. I remember the sanctuary was packed, though. Did I listen? Was I fed propaganda; was I stirred by it? Did we fear judgment day - and who was supposed to be judging whom?

I remember our restaurant slowly losing business as people increasingly preferred to huddle in front of the television (that TV again!) than to get out of the house. We closed that restaurant after a year of struggle. My father now works for his former competitor.
I remember making an ungainly attempt to defend my beloved French from my then-best friend. I don't think either of us knew what we were talking about.
I remember being swept up in the patriotic tide like everyone else. I was snagged by a dissenting twig along the way, though, and I'm grateful for it. I wish more branches took hold.

Six years later, and my memory fades by the day. Six years later, and we speak of "cultural amnesia." Given how little we knew in the first place, I doubt it would do us much good to remember. Meanwhile, the future keeps coming - and we keep trying, instead of rebuilding. Where do we go from here?

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