Thursday, September 08, 2011
And, then, there is this statement by Tom Englehart, who passionately, and, correctly, asserts that there should be no public commemoration of 9/11:
We should take time on 9/11 to remember the nearly 3,000 victims who died that day, but as responsible citizens, we also should face a harsh reality: While the terrorism of fanatical individuals and groups is a serious threat, much greater damage has been done by our nation-state caught up in its own fanatical notions of imperial greatness.
That’s why I feel no satisfaction in being part of the anti-war/anti-empire movement. Being right means nothing if we failed to create a more just foreign policy conducted by a more humble nation.
Ten years later, I feel the same thing that I felt on 9/11 — an indescribable grief over the senseless death of that day and of days to come.
It is a statement well worth reading in its entirety as we reflect upon the true extent of the horror of 9/11 and the events that followed.
It’s commonplace, even today, to speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground. How untrue. Ten years later, it is defiled ground and it’s we who have defiled it. It could have been different. The 9/11 attacks could have been like the Blitz in London in World War II. Something to remember forever with grim pride, stiff upper lip and all.
And if it were only the reactions of those in New York City that we had to remember, both the dead and the living, the first responders and the last responders, the people who created impromptu memorials to the dead and message centers for the missing in Manhattan, we might recall 9/11 with similar pride. Generally speaking, New Yorkers were respectful, heartfelt, thoughtful, and not vengeful. They didn’t have prior plans that, on September 12, 2001, they were ready to rally those nearly 3,000 dead to support. They weren’t prepared at the moment of the catastrophe to -- as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld so classically said -- Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.
Unfortunately, they were not the measure of the moment. As a result, the uses of 9/11 in the decade since have added up to a profile in cowardice, not courage, and if we let it be used that way in the next decade, we will go down in history as a nation of cowards.
There is little on this planet of the living more important, or more human, than the burial and remembrance of the dead. Even Neanderthals buried their dead, possibly with flowers, and tens of thousands of years ago, the earliest humans, the Cro-Magnon, were already burying their dead elaborately, in one case in clothing onto which more than 3,000 ivory beads had been sewn, perhaps as objects of reverence and even remembrance. Much of what we know of human prehistory and the earliest eras of our history comes from graves and tombs where the dead were provided for.
And surely it's our duty in this world of loss to remember the dead, those close to us and those more removed who mattered in our national or even planetary lives. Many of those who loved and were close to the victims of 9/11 are undoubtedly attached to the yearly ceremonies that surround their deceased wives, husbands, lovers, children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. For the nightmare of 9/11, they deserve a memorial. But we don’t.
If September 11th was indeed a nightmare, 9/11 as a memorial and Ground Zero as a consecrated place have turned out to be a blank check for the American war state, funding an endless trip to hell. They have helped lead us into fields of carnage that put the dead of 9/11 to shame.