9/11 is not a celebration
today at 2:58 pm
As I was drifting to sleep last night, I looked forward to the following day. To raising my face to another chilly morning and holding a warm mug of coffee in my hands. Then my friend reminded me tomorrow–today, is 9/11. Suddenly I felt my morning plans lose their luster and I thought, wouldn’t it be nice not to remember?
Don’t skew my meaning, this is not to say that the lives lost on that devastating day shouldn’t be remembered. It is not to say that the heroes shouldn’t be applauded. It is instead to ask, when is it time to stop reliving our losses? To stop asking “Where were you on 9/11?” or relaying videos of towers burning or live bodies jumping.
I have a friend who watches Saving Private Ryan every D-Day *anniversary.* He watches a 9/11 related documentary every September about people coming together. I think it’s a bit twisted. There is a fine line between remembering and being drawn to nightmares. Forcing people to recall the 9/11 attacks each year isn’t about rejoicing in our collective resilience, it’s about coming together to underline a common enemy.
I find it hard to believe that loved ones want to live through the life-altering day over and over again, year after year and I can assure you Muslims and desi’s have no interest in being reminded of the day that changed their lives forever. Neither will forget. My mom operated a store for over a decade right after 9/11 and do you know what I did? I waited by the living room window every night for her until she came home. And then one day, she didn’t. She had been detained by the FBI and told to go to local mosques to see if she could uncover the whereabouts of Bin Laden. I won’t tell you the rest. It’s not my story to tell and all it does is make me see red.
Some years ago, I saw some threads on social media written by people who had lost someone on 9/11 and they said they dreaded September because 9/11 was all people would be talking about and it gave them so much anxiety they had to unplug for the week. Today, I’m seeing countless tweets from Muslims speaking about the same anxiety collecting in the pit of their stomach every September. Relaying stories on the backlash they faced and what they did or still do to look *less* Muslim so they won’t be the target of hate.
Someone else talked about the over 1,800 deaths Hurricane Katrina left in its wake. Do we stop the days and think about that at the end of August? How about the countless lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan since the US’s post-9/11 war on terror? In 2018, the number was estimated to be at least half a million.
Let me make this clear, this is NOT a game of comparisons. But the way we’re picking and choosing what tragedies we focus on–the ones that paint us only as victims while absolving our government and yes, even ourselves as accountable, is morphed beyond measure.
Anniversaries are reserved for marriages and happy milestones worth celebrating. So if you’re out there reliving the horrors of one of our darkest hours, I urge you to ask yourself what exactly you’re commemorating because you can acknowledge the lives lost and respect first responders but at the same time, remember without announcing to the world that you do. Because resilience means doing things differently and growing stronger and moving forward, and we haven’t.
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