I do not know anyone who was affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks personally. I am not even American. But this does not mean I cannot cry about what happened that day. I’m sorry, but there is nothing funny about this post. If you were expecting humour, or wit, or a degrading of those who planned and executed the attack, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. What ever my tagline says, I can be serious and melancholic as well.
All I can remember about that day is…
I was 9 years old and in Grade 4. It was afternoon here already and I was home from school, unaware of what Fate was planned for that day. I almost think my mother and I were in the kitchen, preparing food, when my dad frantically called from work and told us to put the TV on. He had seen what had happened on the internet. I think it was about 3 o’ clock in the afternoon and this was in the days before we had cell phones or internet at home. We switched the TV on and we were just in time to see the plane crash into one of the Twin Towers. This was the news, replaying the event and interrupting the daily cartoons. 9/11 was no day to watch cartoons. We were nailed in front of the TV, watching that same footage replay again and again. Then about an hour or two later, Dad came home, and we heard all the details he had already read. I could not understand. I could not understand how someone could purposefully crash a plane and knowingly cause so many people to die. “How could they not care about all those innocent people?” I asked myself again and again. It took me years, but today I think I understand.
I remember how the tragedy was all over the papers next day, and in school and on the news. Yes, again and again the news. I remember how I got chills every time we heard that they had found another person alive under the rubble, every time we heard of another incredible survival story, every time we heard of an individual’s tragic decease. I remember wanting to cry every time I saw family members cry at Ground Zero, family members holding bouquets and photographs. I also wanted to cry every time I saw someone’s grief drive them to fury, every time I saw someone shout exhortations at those guilty for this attack. “This is not the way it should be,” I remember thinking.
Tonight I watched the memorial service on the television, and again I wanted to cry with those affected by the attack. Everywhere the message “Never forget” is plastered. I wish I could forget. I wish I did not remember everything so vividly. But I cannot. And everyone who can remember owes those who cannot and those who died this: do not forget. This is about more than you. This is not about whether you want to hide from the pain, but it is about the well-being of the world. We must not forget, because we must help the world remember so that this will never happen again. As long as we can remember the mistakes from the past, we can try to prevent them happening again in the future. And this may never happen again.
That is all. I don’t have anything heroic to say about freedom and rebirth. All I can do is offer up a tribute to 9/11. To the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators – God Bless. All I have is this poem by Kelly Strong, called “Freedom Is Not Free”, which I decorated in the American colours.
It’s a decade later. All we have is memories. And a responsibility.
That is all. I just wanted to put that out there.