September 12, 2018

We Will Forget


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For many years here in the United States, post 9/11 remembrances have been the norm. Moments of silence, people talking about ‘where they were when the towers fell‘ and so on. Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed a trend however. Fewer and fewer people (and even fewer businesses) are spending any time talking about it, much less causing others to remember and recall. It’s about the almighty dollar again, sentiment be damned.

I remember 2002, I was working at the company that’s now defunct before the one I’m currently working at. Corporate sent down copy that they wanted read over the intercom, they passed around a note that said (paraphrasing) “at 8:46 am, when the first WTC tower was hit by a jetliner, we wish to have a minute of silence in the store. All work will cease and please be respectful of the lives lost at that time one year ago.” The note went on to say that they wished the same to occur at 9:03 am, and then again at 10:30 to commemorate/remember when the North Tower collapsed. (Considering the timeline of events, they completely skipped over the times of the planes hitting the Pentagon and Shanksville, I think they wanted to get the point across without being too disruptive)

In the years that followed, the ritual continued, virtually identical. Then as the years passed, it went from 3 separate moments of silence to one, then finally none, as it was determined to be disruptive to the work day. Time marched on.

In my current job, there’s typically been no mention of a remembrance of the incident, as the time approached yesterday morning nothing unusual occurred to indicate this day was different from any other, no moment of silence, no mention of what happened, really no nothing.  When I mentioned the significance of the day to a guy that had come in to fix a piece of equipment in my department, he paused and said ‘Oh yeah‘, and then told me where he was on that day.  He was flying home from Las Vegas, and his plane was diverted to Texas. He didn’t get to where he was going until several days later.

Similarly, on television, one would see documentaries made about the attacks, timelines created, discussed, argued, conspiracy theories posited, debunked, argued and debated. These would be scheduled in the week prior to 9/11 and on some channels run near non-stop on the day.  News reports would have video shot at what was universally called ‘Ground Zero’ where the new 1 WTC building (the so-called Freedom Tower) now stands.

This year, paging through the channels, I was hard pressed to find one 9/11 documentary.  One.  Where in years past there were dozens, it seems time has dulled the memory of the event.  Certainly someone who was in high school when this happened is not encroaching on middle age.  Myself?  I was 36.  I recall the same thing happening with the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.  Time moves on, memories dull, priorities change and people find they have more important things to do.

I’m not advocating going back to overdoing the remembrances and spending thousands of hours commemorating and memorializing the event.  But watching the President of the United States (among others) being unable to afford the day the proper respect galls me.  I guess it mostly is an effect of me being a student of history.  I remember.  I recall.  I commemorate.  I guess I have the time.

My two cents.