Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 9/11/2001 has been kinda like being asked - or having it demanded of me - to remember the Shoah, only this time the entire country was involved in the remembrance, not just my own people. It makes a difference...I'll get to that...

It's been written about many times on this blog. I've been reading about it quite a bit in the past couple of weeks, too:

Tom Junod's The Falling Man and its follow-up, Surviving The Fall.
The scars Logan Airport workers still bear from that day.
It's incredible what lingers physically from the towers' collapse.
What most people don't realize is that, after the towers took a few hundred firefighters and police with them, a month later a plane crashed into Belle Harbor outside of JFK Airport, heaping further tragedy on a town that had already sacrificed a lot to the events of 9/11. I found this to be especially poignant.

What made me decide to leave all social media alone yesterday, however, was this:

How could I honor the loss of 2751 lives in one day of social media silence? 
Getting out my calculator, I learned the grim statistic that 2751 over 24 hours amounted to just under 2 people per minute.  By defining a “moment” as 30 seconds, it would take 22.9 hours to observe a moment of silence for each individual killed that day.  The last hour honors those that survived, yet suffered loss or trauma, and are forever haunted by the events of that day. 
2751 Moments of Silence. 
Because social media like Twitter and Facebook have given me the luxury of meeting and befriending so many new, interesting individuals, while giving me a chance to develop personally, creatively and professionally, I want those 2751 individuals to have it for a day. 
2751 individuals never had the chance to tweet, post a Facebook status update, record a Seesmic, write their blog or to decide it was all stupid and a complete waste of time.
It was a pretty good illustration of the virtual version of this.

That was mostly my day yesterday, though I was a tad stymied when I came into the religious school teachers' meeting yesterday morning and was confronted by a fear that our children - many of whom had not even been alive when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a meadow outside Shanksville, PA - would somehow stay ignorant of these events. It was as though none of us had remembered how we were taught about the Shoah. Many of the kids are too young to be taught the worst details of the Nazis' reign of terror, anyhow, or of the people trapped in the towers who decided to jump...which brings me to why the nationwide insistence on 9/11 remembrance is different from just one much smaller group of people insisting on remembering something like the Shoah.

"Never forget" has been neatly appropriated from Holocaust remembrances and used to try to keep a nation in a war that many of the people caught up in it don't even understand why we're fighting. It is being used to justify why we need to keep on the path we've been on for ten years that doesn't look like it's ending anytime soon. What lessons have we truly learned from 9/11's version of "never forget?" Is it to be kinder people, to be less enabling of the urge to go to war, to be more conscious of the hurts we still continue to put on those in our midst who don't necessarily think in the ways of those who turned those planes into missiles? I don't see much of that, unfortunately. I wish I did.

I don't fear our children having no clue of what happened on that fateful day. I fear that they won't learn that we as Americans are more, much more, than this tragedy. The best lessons of the Shoah emphasized that we as Jews are not defined by the Zyklon-B filled chambers that sent many lives that could have been into nothingness. Would that we as a nation were not defined by those planes wrested from their pilots' control ten years ago...

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