Sunday, September 11, 2011


It has been a struggle to write a post to commemmorate the tenth anniversary of September 11th.  It is still, even ten years later, such a difficult thing to come to grips with.  Watching the footage - planes flying into buildings, mushrooming clouds of orange flame and black smoke, people plunging to their deaths, the stunned, ash-covered survivors wandering through the debris after the towers came down - it's all still so sharp and painful, like a knife to the heart. 

So I've tried to focus on the silver lining, as I am wont to do.  The open wound that was Ground Zero in past years has given way to the rapidly climbing Freedom Tower, rising up towards its goal of dominating the American skyline 1,776 feet above the plaza surrounding the seemingly endless Footprint Waterfalls in Memorial Park. The memorial at the Pentagon with it's graceful commemmorative benches and their invitation for a quiet, pensive moment of reflection and the ever-growing memorial at Shanksfield are a testament to our deep desire to honor and remember.  But they are also symbols of our desire to move forward and show that we were bowed but not broken.  The American spirit will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of despair to greet the new day.  Morning in America will dawn once more.

The most important change this year, though, is that America finally got justice, and it seems to have changed the tone of the day. While it is still a sad, solemn occasion, it seems to be tempered this time; less anguished, more mellow. Perhaps it's just because ten years have passed, and time heals all wounds. But it's more likely because the focus of our national rage has been, literally, deep-sixed. We have closure. We were struck, and we struck back. The killing of Osama Bin Laden has done much to help the healing.  Does that make us bloodthirsty?  No, it makes us human.  Although we, in this most Christian of nations, prefer forgiveness to vengeance, we also recognize sometimes it is necessary to go a little Old Testament.  It's hard to imagine another event deserving of an eye-for-an-eye retributive strike (and for those who think 9/11 was an inside job, do they also believe President Obama is a murderer for killing Bin Laden who, after all, was an innocent man according to their theories?).  Bin Laden's death was a healing salve on the national wound; the final step in our recouperation.

On this tenth anniversary, there seems to be a bit of a feeling of letting go.  A real, solid sense of healing.  A new understanding that, truly, this too shall pass.  We must never forget the events of that day, or allow the issue to be clouded.  But we are learning that it is possible to be ever vigilant, that it's possible to pay homage, and yet still move on; to progress, to prosper, to thrive.  And therein lies our ultimate victory over those who sought to bring us low.  

Therein lies our power, the thing they will never understand.  When terror strikes at our hearts, it strengthens our resolve.  We will not cower like beaten dogs before a cruel master.  We are stronger than that.  We are better than that.  We are American.



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