As a nation, we like to mark anniversaries of horror and chaos in nice orderly numbers and events. Perhaps for some that makes the grief easier to bear. And perhaps for others it’s just less of an intrusion into their nice, comfortable and regulated lives.
And that’s how it has gone so far with the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
The first year is always a big deal. Then let’s times it by 10 — over and over again. And, pretty soon, in a blink of the eye of history, it is a faint memory for those who lived that day; and a recollection only through television images or words in books or of aged relatives for so many others.
But just as the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, or the invasion of D Day to liberate Europe on June 6, 1944, that should never, ever happen with 9/11/2001.
It was a decade plus a year ago today when hell engulfed New York City, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Eleven years can sometimes seem so distant, but not when it comes a single day when the U.S. mainland was attacked and nearly 3,000 Americans were killed.
And so despite all the events and history that has passed by in the those 11 years, that day and those to immediately follow remain seared in my mind; the words and images as surreal on 9/11/2012 as 9/11/2001.
A year ago the country was awash in 9/11 tributes, just as it was on 9/11/2002. One year and 10 years are nice and neat and so it was easy to put on them a bow of remembrance.
This year, there are considerably fewer television segments and news stories than in 2011.
Two presidential nomination conventions were held less than a month from the 9/11 anniversary, yet, in prime time anyway, there was not a moment of silence to honor the victims of that day called for amid all the pomp, pontification and goofiness at the gatherings.
Life, of course, needed to go on after 9/11 with resolve and a belief and hope for a better future. And the bad guys needed to be dealt with harshly. That’s the American way — and it’s a very good way.
We have done well since 9/11/2001.
But today, on this 11th anniversary of that fateful day, there is absolutely nothing wrong in reliving the pain and shedding a tear or two or three for those innocent victims and heroes of 9/11/2001. In fact, there is a lot of good in doing so.
And pause to think for just a moment or two or more of the loved ones of those who died in the World Trade Center towers and the heart center of the U.S. military and in a plane piloted by terrorists that was brought down by true heroes into a rural Pennsylvania landscape.
For those family members, time doesn’t erase or even ease the memories of 9/11/2001.