11 September 2011

Remembering, Not Reliving

I WAS SITTING in my office, 15 miles from the Pentagon when the events of 9/11 began. Kerri was at Baltimore-Washington International Airport dropping off her parents for a planned flight to California. My friend Kevin was in downtown Washington, where he said it sounded like explosions where going off -- probably super-sonic blasts from the scrambling jets. We all know where we were, much like previous generations know where they were when they heard about John F. Kennedy's death or Pearl Harbor. It's hard to imagine that it was 10 years ago.

As I have expressed to several friends in recent days, I have conflicting thoughts how the media is covering this important anniversary. On the one hand, I recognize the importance of honoring all those who died that autumn morning -- especially the first-responders who acted like heroes in their attempt to save others. I recognize that 9/11 shook America in a very meaningful way and those few moments when the planes hit the World Trade Center will be frozen in time forever. I recognize that America was perhaps at its best in the days and weeks after 9/11 as we put aside petty differences and came together as one nation, determined to get through the worst terrorist act in our history. I recognize that the global community did the same -- offering incredible amounts of sympathy and support for their American friends.

But on the other hand I don't want 9/11 to define America. The bastards who attacked us must understand that their mission failed and the United States will not be held hostage by the memories of that day. Images of planes hitting towers, people jumping from buildings, and smoke billowing into the air is understandable -- and perhaps appropriate -- in the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But at the same time there is a sensationalistic component -- playing on emotions -- that makes me uncomfortable. It's as if some media outlets see the anniversary not as a time to remember and reflect, but as an opportunity for some huge ratings. Perhaps that is merely a byproduct of the 24-hour news/internet era, I don't know. What I do know is that there is a balance, and we should strive for it. I hope Americans spend today remembering 9/11, not reliving it.

Whatever happens, we certainly will never forget it.

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