This is the second time I’ve been out of the country for an anniversary of September 11th. Yesterday evening the Italian news stations began memorial coverage, and Jeremy and I got to talking about our thoughts.
Inevitably, the footage instills a sense of grief and horror at the events that transpired, even years later. I am grateful that I did not lose any loved ones on 9/11. Luckily, none of my family members who live(d) in New York worked in the Twin Towers. Jeremy wondered about the reactions of those who were not directly affected by the attack (he had a relative who was one of the “if this hadn’t happened in this way he would have died” stories, where this man got out only a short time before the building collapsed).
I guess the attack still stirs me for the reasons why the terrorists chose to target the Twin Towers at all; they were a symbol. The Pentagon was a symbol. And every time I think about that day, I think about the day itself rather than the aftermath. Yes, I am disgusted by how some people lashed out at middle Eastern Americans (or people they assumed were middle Eastern). Yes, the war that follows today was, in my opinion, misguided. However, on that day, we saw America as it can be: neighbors comforting neighbors, strangers uniting with strangers to grieve for our losses. We saw courage, too: the courage of the people aboard those planes, especially those who knew what would happen and, in their last moments, saved the lives of many others.
The Italian news anchor noted that we have a new generation of Americans that will never have lived without this as part of our history.
I think every generation will live with the aftermath of the attack; they just may not be able to identify the source. Many things changed fundamentally after that.