9/11, A Holiday of Remembrance

 

tenYearsGone.smOn the morning of September 11th, 2001, my wife and I were talking with our neighbors as we all waited at a bus stop to see our children off to school. I had just started becoming interested in amateur astronomy, so I was chatting a bit about it. One of our neighbors remarked that a local astronomy group often met on a nearby hill. She claimed that the hill was so high and the view so unobstructed that, on a clear day, from there in central Connecticut, one could see the World Trade Center towers. I never got the chance to verify her claim.

A few towns over from where we lived, there was a little store that puzzled me ever since I first saw it as a teenager. The store sold flags and flag accessories. I had no idea how it stayed in business: I drove by that store for years and never saw a single customer. But, a few days after 9/11, that store had a long line of customers waiting to get in.

My wife, who had lost a childhood friend in the attack, and who was active in the American Legion Auxiliary for most of her life, was heartened at the sudden patriotic display. I warned her then that it wasn’t going to last, that the Americans who hate this country would never allow it to last. And it wasn’t too long afterward that I noticed that, during any public display of patriotism and remembrance, any Ruling Class liberal present in the crowd would start to bristle. And soon after that, it became uncouth to show too many pictures of the attack, and then to show any at all.

In 2014, my wife suggested that we go to the 9/11 Memorial so she could pay respect to her friend before we finally moved away to Wyoming. I did not want to go: I remembered too well the bristling elites and so suspected what I might find there. However, going was something that we had to do. And once there, I found that my expectations were surpassed. I have very mixed thoughts about the memorial itself, suffice it to say that I found it soul-crushing. But that’s not what surpassed my expectations. The crowd did that. More often than I care to remember, I saw small groups of people, at the 9/11 memorial, smiling and laughing while posing for a selfie.

In less than thirteen years, our society went from waiting in line to buy a flag to snapping selfies on the site of a mass grave.

You might think that a harsh statement, but I don’t. Since moving to Wyoming, I’ve noticed that the further you go from the New York Tri-State area, the less import the 9/11 attacks carry. And that is to be expected. But, let me tell you: as someone who was offered but declined an IT position at the WTC in the late 90’s, as someone who drove around NYC and into northern New Jersey so I could see first-hand the smoking hole in the skyline, as someone who lived in a town where almost everyone was touched in some way by the attack, as someone who had friends who worked in NYC on that very day, as someone whose wife lost a friend in the towers, as someone who had to calm the fears of an eleven year old son, as someone who was chatting idly about the towers that very morning – that statement might not be harsh enough.

In two days, we will mark the fifteenth anniversary of that attack. And 9/11 is now called Patriot Day. I can’t help but suspect that even the official naming of the day is a subtle attempt to dull the import of it – the name Pearl Harbor Day still carries import. However, regardless of the name, the day deserves a special deference, one which it does not currently have and if left to our elites probably never will have. I recently wrote in Ricochet on the importance of holidays, on how, if we are to win the culture war, we have to counteract leftist contrivances such as Labor Day and Earth Day by observing holidays of our own. And I can not think of a holiday which better fits that description than 9/11.


UPDATE – 09/10 02:34 MT – After returning from work this morning, I saw an article posted in the Daily Mail UK about people taking selfies at the 9/11 Memorial. One person even brought a blow-up doll.

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  1. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Thank you very much for sharing on what has to be a very difficult subject personally.

    • #1
  2. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Austin Murrey:Thank you very much for sharing on what has to be a very difficult subject personally.

    Not difficult, just infuriating. Thanks for reading, Austin.

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Rick Poach:

    Austin Murrey:Thank you very much for sharing on what has to be a very difficult subject personally.

    Not difficult, just infuriating. Thanks for reading, Austin.

    It feels like yesterday to me.

    I admire you. I could not have contained my anger at the people taking selfies.

    • #3
  4. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Thank you for this post. I am so sorry about your wife’s friend. I lost one of my cousins in 9/11. What happened that day is so unlike anything that ever happened before that it isn’t really surprising that many who didn’t know anyone who was there are at a loss as to how to remember. . And that goes double and triple for young people who weren’t even born at the time. I haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial in New York; I am assuming that most of the people taking selfies were young. I wonder if their minds just can’t compute the magnitude of it, so they just switch off from it. Their behavior is callous, but when people are faced with things they don’t want to deal with or have no idea how to deal with, they can be very callous.

    There are a few high ranking leftists who are on principle against patriotism, but most people aren’t. Most of the people who switch off from thinking about 9/11 are just faced with something they have no clue how to deal with.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I am one of the few people in America who remains upset that the city built anything over that site.

    I vividly remember the ambulances and doctors waiting to help survivors who never emerged from those buildings.

    It is a mass grave. I can’t imagine building anything on top of it.

    And to see people treating it as just some other memorial they visit would make me crazy.

    • #5
  6. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    MarciN:

    Rick Poach:

    Austin Murrey:Thank you very much for sharing on what has to be a very difficult subject personally.

    Not difficult, just infuriating. Thanks for reading, Austin.

    It feels like yesterday to me.

    I admire you. I could not have contained my anger at the people taking selfies.

    Yeah, it was outrageous.

    • #6
  7. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Judithann Campbell:Thank you for this post. I am so sorry about your wife’s friend. I lost one of my cousins in 9/11. What happened that day is so unlike anything that ever happened before that it isn’t really surprising that many who didn’t know anyone who was there are at a loss as to how to remember. . And that goes double and triple for young people who weren’t even born at the time. I haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial in New York; I am assuming that most of the people taking selfies were young. I wonder if their minds just can’t compute the magnitude of it, so they just switch off from it. Their behavior is callous, but when people are faced with things they don’t want to deal with or have no idea how to deal with, they can be very callous.

    There are a few high ranking leftists who are on principle against patriotism, but most people aren’t. Most of the people who switch off from thinking about 9/11 are just faced with something they have no clue how to deal with.

    I think you are right about the younger generations and callousness as a coping mechanism. But I don’t think that you are right about leftists in general. Either way, thank you for reading, Judithann.

    • #7
  8. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    MarciN: I am one of the few people in America who remains upset that the city built anything over that site.

    I have varying opinions on what should have been done with the site, but I really don’t care for the memorial that was put on the footprint of the towers.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    It’s funny. People wonder about post-traumatic stress disorder for our military people. But I can really understand it.

    Most of the time, new events push older events out of our memory such that there is an orderly sequential arrangement to them. That’s true for me with every other event I’ve experienced in some way except this one. The memories of those two days of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are as vivid for me as if they had literally happened yesterday.

    I don’t think I’m the only person for whom this is true. I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon on those rare occasions that those events come up on my favorite (and only) television shows, NCIS and Blue Bloods. Whenever these events are part of the story line for a particular episode, there is a stillness in the actors and a change in mood that I’m convinced is their having the same problem I’m having with it.

    It doesn’t go away.

    • #9
  10. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Judithann Campbell: I lost one of my cousins in 9/11.

    You are not alone. May your cousin rest in peace.

    • #10
  11. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    MarciN: It doesn’t go away.

    No, it doesn’t.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I’ve never been to the Memorial. I suspect I would react as you did, Rick.

    I was working in the Loop on 9/11 just a few blocks from what was then still known as the Sears Tower. I was puzzling out a driver bug when a coworker told me that a plane had hit one of the towers. I thought it might be an accident and told her about the  B-25 that hit the Empire State Building during WWII.

    A few minutes later, she told me the other tower had been hit. That made it an attack. Meaningful work pretty much ceased. Our boss came in about an hour later to tell us that we were free to go home. In fact he pretty much insisted. The option trading floor was shutting down and everyone was getting away from the Loop. There were more planes unaccounted for and Sears Tower looked like a prime target in those early hours.

    I walked back to the train station past the Sears Tower, trying to work out in my head how long it would take an object to fall that distance if, say, someone rammed it with an airliner. I think my answer was “about 10 seconds.”

    The train station was packed when I got there. Everybody was headed home. I stood on the platform thinking “this is what an evacuation is like.” All trains were being pressed into service, all were local, and it was standing room only.

    • #12
  13. Martel Inactive
    Martel
    @Martel

    What I miss (and regret was caused by such a tragedy) was that short time during and right after 9/11 when I felt so achingly proud to be an American.

    I lived in Chicago at the time, and for that little while people were so good to each other.  We all seemed to have our priorities in line and knew what was really important.  We valued heroism and looked at cops and firefighters just a little bit differently.  Friends mattered just a little bit more, and even strangers seemed like potential friends.  Even the public school right by where I lived had “God Bless America” on its outside signboard.

    But with each passing day, a drip here, a drip there, and before you knew it back to normal.

    • #13
  14. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Percival: I suspect I would react as you did, Rick.

    I suspect so as well.

    Percival: I stood on the platform thinking “this is what an evacuation is like.”

    What struck me was how empty the skies were immediately afterward – all air traffic was grounded. I remember feeling a sense of relief when I first saw a jet after the grounding. Thanks for reading, Percival.

    • #14
  15. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Martel:But with each passing day, a drip here, a drip there, and before you knew it back to normal.

    Normal being a 9/10 mentality. Thanks for reading, Martel.

    • #15
  16. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Percival: I walked back to the train station past the Sears Tower, trying to work out in my head how long it would take an object to fall that distance if, say, someone rammed it with an airliner. I think my answer was “about 10 seconds.”

    One of my very good friends works in an office that was at that time near the fashion district. He’s lived in NYC all of his life. He had some horrific stories: a woman he worked with left the WTC subway stop just as people started jumping.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It doesn’t go away for me, Rick. It is still vivid in my memory. Maybe because I happened to have the TV on in So. Cal. and watched the second plane hit. And later watched people jump.

    I don’t think I will go there. I have been to Yad Vashem, and to Dachau. I can’t bring myself to go to anymore Holocaust museums. The horror and obscenity and tragedy of the loss of life is too great. I feel that the innocents who died in the Twin Towers and lie in their graves there would be too difficult for me. I carry them in my heart and pray that we will never have that magnitude of catastrophe here again. That is probably a naïve wish.

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    “The tower is a fifth of a mile tall. Sound travels at a fifth of a mile a second. By the time I hear the crash, I’ll have maybe nine seconds to get away …”

    It’s funny what you’re brain will do when stressed in an unusual direction.

    • #18
  19. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Every year, my family has a Memorial Service with a few other local families who lost loved ones in 9/11′ this service always draws a pretty big crowd, and many of the people there did not personally know anyone who was lost in 9/11. Our local news does a good job of covering the anniversary every year, and at least ten of the towns in my area have events planned to commemorate the anniversary. I feel as though my local area does pretty well at dealing with this, and I am not in a conservative area-I live in Western Mass.

    I am just wondering what it’s like in other areas. Are local events common, or is my area unusual?

    • #19
  20. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    And it looks like the Daily Mail UK has an article up about selfies at the 9/11 Memorial. One jerk brought a blow-up doll.

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Rick Poach:And it looks like the Daily Mail UK has an article up about selfies at the 9/11 Memorial.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3782563/I-lost-husband-sacred-ground-m-disgusted-British-stag-cause-outrage-taking-selfies-NAKED-BLOW-DOLL-Ground-Zero-eve-15th-anniversary-9-11-police-order-leave.html\

    I just saw that.

    • #21
  22. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Percival: I just saw that.

    I wasn’t sure if people quite believed me when I claimed it because it is so disrespectful. But the article, after a lot of pictures of the group with the blow-up doll, features pictures of people taking selfies by the memorial. The article even refers to the site as a “mass grave.” I guess that Rory Tingle (the author of the Daily Mail UK piece) and I are firing some of the same cylinders.

    • #22
  23. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Dancing on a grave is something usually reserved for one’s defeated enemies. Taking a selfie (!??) at the 9/11 memorial site smacks of dancing on someone’s grave. It is disgusting. It is insensitive. Until you mentioned it, to me it was unthinkable.

    • #23
  24. Ray Kujawa Coolidge
    Ray Kujawa
    @RayKujawa

    Rick Poach:

    Percival: I just saw that.

    I wasn’t sure if people quite believed me when I claimed it because it is so disrespectful. But the article, after a lot of pictures of the group with the blow-up doll, features pictures of people taking selfies by the memorial. The article even refers to the site as a “mass grave.” I guess that Rory Tingle (the author of the Daily Mail UK piece) and I are firing some of the same cylinders.

    He qualifies the offense as smiling selfies, but I noticed in a couple shots people weren’t smiling.

    • #24
  25. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Ray Kujawa: He qualifies the offense as smiling selfies, but I noticed in a couple shots people weren’t smiling.

    The people I saw when I went were smiling. Thanks for reading, Ray.

    • #25
  26. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    A very touching piece, Rick. I was unsurprised when I saw the piece in the Daily Mail. When America stopped being a country that observed the sabbath, where stores remained closed on Sundays, and people observed a day of rest beginning with an hour or so in their local church, we began process of becoming a very unserious people. We no longer educate our children in morals and values. Nothing holds anyone’s interest for very long. We elect people to office who treat the people’s house as a brothel or a place to entertain athletes, raps artists, and other unserious people. We are about to elect one of two people to the office of President of the United States who represent the nadir of seriousness. Neither possesses a drop of integrity, nor does either of them bring anything of value to the people they wish to represent. We have, in the words of Jonathan Swift, become a Confederacy of Dunces.

    • #26
  27. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Rick Poach: And it wasn’t too long afterward that I noticed that, during any public display of patriotism and remembrance, any Ruling Class liberal present in the crowd would start to bristle.

    Rick.  Your account is so powerful.  So poignant.

    And your above statement  – too true.  I’ll never forget a leftist neighbor who was attending an opera with my husband and I – shortly after 9/11.   The conductor asked us to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.  Al was grousing about it as we took our seats. “You shouldn’t “politicize” a public event.   When we arrive home . . . and THIS  . . .is unbelievable: He’d left a question on our answering machine.  “Was Samson a terrorist?”   We no longer socialize with them.

    • #27
  28. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    MarciN: It is a mass grave. I can’t imagine building anything on top of it.

    Marci . . . Your comment  . . .  it’s so very, very big.

    I know a dairy farmer whose family is conservative and hard-working and America-loving.

    They’ve struggled financially and her beloved son went to New York to work beneath the Trade Tower ruins.   He and his co-workers always talked about the sense of being haunted as they worked beneath this site of so much pain and death.

    • #28
  29. Topher Inactive
    Topher
    @Topher

    I visited the memorial. Considering the impossibility of the task, I found the design to be profound and appropriate. The combination of the consoling sound of water falling into eternity and the permanent inscription in steel of the names of each of the lost works. The designer is Israeli, also appropriate.

    You have to discount for idiots. It is not the fault of the design of the memorial that people act like morons.

    It is fitting to have a memorial on a mass grave. Isn’t that what we do?

    • #29
  30. Topher Inactive
    Topher
    @Topher

    Something about the architects:

    http://www.911memorial.org/memorial-architects

    They deserve credit.

    • #30
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