Last year Jenny and I woke up to her Mom leaving this strange message on our answering machine to stay out of government buildings. We turned on CNN and the news was trickling in.
I’d like to say at this point that nostalgia is stupid. No television show can encompass terrorism. It is folly to think we will find closure or simple answers. As the line in Full Metal Jacket goes … “It’s a shit sandwich and we’re all gonna have to take a bite.”
Beware anyone who is using the memory of a year ago to sell you something. Whether that something is war, or a new car, or insurance, plastic flags. Beware people who wrap themselves in the flag. Even with the best intentions, blind patriotism is not a positive force for a democratic society.
Americans are great not because we’re so good at rallying together. We’re great because we can dissent, speak up, and still be United States.
Last year after Jenny picked up the phone and talked to her Mom on the phone, I immediately checked my email. My sister was working at the Smithsonian at the time. Her office was right on the Mall. In Washington D.C. I received this email, sent to my parents and to me.
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 7:01 am
Subject: Re: today
Dear Mom and Dad, Joe and Jenny,
We just heard the news about the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
They’re evacuating Congress right now. I’m kinda nervous about this whole thing.
Take care of yourselves and stay out of federal buildings.
Call me when you can… I can imagine it’s going to be crazy trying to get home today on the metro.
all my love,
I wrote her back as soon as I read it and told her to be safe and that I loved her. I was scared for her. She replied with this:
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 7:56 am
Subject: Re: today
Thanks for responding.
They’ve told us to leave the building. I’m going home. 703-XXX-XXXX. I’ll call when I get home.
I love you.
Again, I have no wisdom today. I’m not trying to evoke anything. I did not lose anyone close to me in the events. But I wanted to record my thoughts and memories on this for posterity. Here’s last years September 11 post.