Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12th

As I wrote yesterday, awakening to the bright blue skies of early Fall on September 12, 2001 was like entering an America reborn, if only for a few weeks or months. No agenda, no politics - just sympathy, sorrow, patriotism and pride, and thousands of American flags everywhere you looked.

I remember that most sports were cancelled that weekend but roared back in the weeks that followed in a moving tribute to those gone and those serving, as if the physical excellence and metaphorical combat on the football pitch and baseball diamond portended of righteous victory and redemption for our country. Remember when the Patriots won the Super Bowl that winter? Almost as if it was an omen of our enduring success.

Of course we have come far since those first heady days of 21st century America, and while our ideals still prevail as perhaps the highest and the very best of humankind across the reaches of the earth, we cannot gloss over serious and substantial underlying fissures within our society. Right and left, rich and poor, native and immigrant - we all share in some part of the conflict spectrum that threatens our collective and continued success.

I've flipped through various commemorative essays today, and a few choice pieces have caught my eye:

Michael Roth, the President of Wesleyan University writes about a lack of partisanship and its importance in making tribute: Ten Years After: Commemoration Without Agenda
[O]n this 10th anniversary of 9/11 let us also simply acknowledge the claim that our painful memories still have on us. Let us recognize with piety that we still carry the traces of those traumatic events with us, and that we acknowledge their importance to us without trying to use them. Let us commemorate, if only for a few moments, without agenda.
I think that is a very appropriate tone to strike, and one that perhaps an older version of the popular media would have worked to protect a generation or two ago. If only there were more folks that were able to articulate things as well as Mr. Roth.

And this, from Gotham Gal, wife of VC investor / tech blogger Fred Wilson:
Going on the subway the day after the towers came down because I thought it was important that we didn't let this event change the way we live in our city. There were tons of cops down there. Josh went up to one of them and asked if they caught the bad guys yet. He answered, not yet son but we will, we will
A year later to the day Josh woke up that morning and the first thing he said when his eyes opened up was, did they ever catch that Osama Bin Laden guy?
There's stuff like this all over, as everyone reflects in their own way. What strikes me is the similarities among the many, several key themes that are repeated again and again - grief, normalcy, solidarity.

As much as I spent yesterday remembering September 11th, I want to remind myself to spend today - and the weeks the follow - remembering the sense of community and the sense of country we felt on September 12th and for much of the rest of that fall. People just seemed better that year, more in tune with the niceties of common life, reflective on the importance of enjoying and savoring the life of the living.

Elon alumnus Jason Boone '05, whose father Col. Canfield Boone was killed in the Pentagon on his day off, during the first month of Jason's freshman year, writes about the community that rose from those ashes, much like a phoenix, for the betterment of everyone involved:
I have to remind myself that 10 years is a significant chunk of time. Current freshmen would have been in third grade at the time of the attacks. For young people who may have been old enough to see the events, but too young to fully comprehend, I hope they believe people like me when we say, “Yes, that one day in September, we were very afraid.” But the next day, we feared a little less. Eventually, we even had hope. Laughter and happiness would return – much sooner than I dared to guess. The way people of vastly divergent backgrounds united was a truly stunning event to witness. The cliché of united resolve was not simply a unit of political currency. It was palpable in every gathering.
Well said, all.

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