Generally speaking, anniversaries are cause for celebration. Whether gathering together in honor of someone’s birthday or honoring another year married, anniversary celebrations are filled with smiling faces and the sounds of laughter. However, anniversaries can also mark a time in history when neither smiling faces nor the sound of laughter exist.
Throughout the world, anniversaries exist and remind us of a specific time when governments, terrorists, dictators, etc. killed innocent people. As the date nears, conversations grow, pictures and videos resurface, and people recall their own memories of the tragedy.
We hold on to these dates in history with sadness and grief. We cling to the memories like a child clings to his/her blanket, as if holding on to the date brings some sort of understanding or semblance of peace. We insist we’ll never forget.
But we do – we do forget.
No, I’m not insinuating we forget the lives lost or the lives forever altered with illness or handicap. Rather, I am saying we forget the why. We forget why these horrific incidents happen.
We forget about the hatred that brought down the towers, as we find ourselves hating someone around us. We forget about the racism that lead to genocide in third world countries, and the racism that permeated throughout Germany, Poland and the United States, as we walk around feeling superior to our coworkers and/or our neighbors. We forget about the bigotry that continues to thrive within us, as we spew intolerance through various so-called social media.
Differences are no longer celebrated. Differences are mocked and hated. Our differences have become kindling for a fire of violence.
We have forgotten how to get along with others. We have forgotten how to trust others. We have forgotten how to accept others. We have forgotten how to respect others. We have forgotten how to respect ourselves.
Yes, I still remember where I was when the planes started crashing into buildings on September 11, 2001. Yes, I remember how the first responders walked into burning buildings never to return. Yes, I remember how people chose to jump out a window rather than be consumed by flames. Yes, I remember the lives lost. Yes, I think about the men and women continuing to battle their mental, emotional and physical scars. And yes, I remember how the United States and the world came together to help their friends, family and neighbors.
Now the world gets together on weekends and anniversaries with memorials and moments of silence. We mark the time the planes hit each tower, the Pentagon and a field in PA. We see photos of burning buildings, disheveled first responders and survivors, twisted metal and blankets of soot. We watch videos and hear recorded messages. We do all of this in remembrance of September 11, 2001. Then, on September 12, we go on with our lives, cursing the driver who cut us off, glaring with judgement at the person dressed differently, and taking to social media to bash any one and everyone who is different from ourselves.
The bumper stickers, the memorials, the ribbons all claim we will never forget. But we do- we do forget.
16 thoughts on “But we do – we do forget.”
One of the values of blogging, for me, is the connection it gives me with people like you, Lenore. The truth is, our attention span is shrinking all the time, and with it, our ability to remember what’s important. We need to keep reminding each other, because stuff keeps happening, and we’re going to forget again. Thank you for this reminder.
Charles, something tells me you did not need this reminder. In any case, I always enjoy hearing from you.
I am glad to have you as a blogging buddy. Thank you!
You’re right, differences are an excuse to hate now. And so many who do hate can identify it in anyone but themselves.
How do we fix it? I really wish we could fix it.
Thanks for agreeing with me. “You’re right.” sounds awesome!
I remember my colleague down the hall told me between 2nd and 3rd period.
I remember listening for the PA to come on so we could listen to our principal, a leader, any leader who might assuage our fears.
I remember students dropping out of class like flies as worried parents came to pull them out of school uncertain of where the next “attack” would be.
I remember the students who stayed…the ones who weren’t pulled out…I remember reading them the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling…trying to find some words of wisdom to reflect on at their age.
I remember Open House was cancelled that night.
I remember everyone was at church next Sunday. Airline workers were in uniform, police and firemen were in uniform. Our minister did not preach, he merely asked us what was on our minds. Our community came together to process the reality of it.
I remember mayor Giuliani appearing on SNL giving permission for our nation to laugh again, a thought I had not considered.
Yes, I remember being given the permission to laugh. How odd that was.
I was asleep when the news came out…
it seems like there might be something somewhat profound (for me, personally) in that…
Funny, in an interesting and thought-provoking way. The ‘take’ of an artist, no doubt.
I believe some people are still sleeping, SIG.
My best childhood friend was in the foreign service in Israel. She had a three day old infant and four other children. If she left, it would be w/o her husband. One of my bridesmaid-level friends couldn’t find her husband (also very dear) who worked in Manhattan. It is so vivid in my head–watching it while folding laundry, husband in the shower, Big Boy in his walker, thumping around…me calling P to come see…and that, Lenore, was the very first time I could say, “Thank God I’m in Alabama.” My family, all so close to D.C…well, back when I had one, you know…
Another time, I will tell you another story about The Mommies, spread all over the country and the world and how we spent that span of days desperately checking in with each other, taking attendance, tallying loss…(this was, I suppose, a primitive form of blogging), but the worst part was that single solitary mommy who agreed with that religious guy who’d been running his pie-face mouth about sodom and such. How? How? Even ten, almost eleven years later, I am shocked by her full-on agreement with this guy.
And no, that isn’t the story. That’s just the set up.
I do miss you.
p.s. made apple waffles and extreme vanilla waffles for Waldorf Bakesale tomorrow. Thought of you–those vanilla waffles are like really big sugar cookies, just begging for the right ice cream…It would be cute, at first, to see you with it smeared all over your face…then it would just be rather sad.
Regardless, I miss you.
Aw. I miss you more. I’m waiting to hear the rest of the story. And, you are a fantastic story teller.
I hope you’ll write about your stories…. Maybe even share the waffle recipe.
I think this just says it all. great post.
Thank you, Rumbly. Good to see you here; I’m glad you liked the post.
Great post. I hate how divided the country is. Republicans hate Democrats, Democrats hate Republicans. Never mind the fact that the other side may have a good point. I think we are all more alike than we realize.
Thanks, Robin. We are alike, and I think people are starting to realize this fact. However, I’m not sure they are comfortable with the realization.
Wonderful post. It makes me feel better to know that there are other people out there trying to avoid knee-jerk reactions and feelings. It’s funny, as paralyzing as it was to watch the footage unfolding that day, I remember thinking that this must be what it is like to live in the middle east, where terrorism has reigned for something like 50 years.
Exactly. America has been very ‘lucky’ with the lack of terrorism on our ‘turf’. Yes, we’ve had riots, violence, etc. But have not experienced a world war on our soil, nor do we have a true risk of a cafe exploding due to a car bomb. Watching the events of 9/11 was a tough reminder of what has transpired overseas for years. I am glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you.