I don’t need to tell you what day it is. You wont be able to look at a single media source today without being reminded. It’s Sunday, the 11th September 2011. It’s 10 years since what will likely be the defining moment of the 21st Century. 10 years since the worst terrorist attack in western culture. Since the planes were taken and the towers fell and the pentagon was breached and United 93 crashed in a blaze of heroism and tragedy. 10 years after 9/11 it’s still 9/11, and it looks like we’re never getting away from it.
It is going to be one of those things that people will ask you about at some point, years from now. A “where were you?” moment. Up there with the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination and the fall of the Berlin Wall. One good, one bad, one good, one bad. Here’s hoping we’re on an upswing. I’ve heard that some people my age heard about it while they were still in school, and listened to it on the radio in their classrooms. I didn’t hear about it until I got home. I wasn’t fully in the door when my brother told me about it from the top of the stairs. I think we had the news on for a week solid (although if you ask my girlfriend, that’s all I ever watch anyway). I spent the next hour or two after finding out in a daze of unoriginality, singing R.E.M’s “End of the world as we know it” to myself as if it were funny or necessary. It was neither, I know. I was a stupid boy.
As I write this, I’ve seen advertisements for TV shows. Documentaries. One is called “Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill.” No doubt there will be a dozen or more documentaries on this week about what happened that day, and the repercussions. Everyone’s memory of the event will be different, so maybe these will cast a new insight on it. Personally, I found 102 Minutes that Changed America to be intense, powerful viewing. It shows the 102 minutes it took for the crisis to unfold through the video footage taken by people who were there. I was shaken by the dust. People so covered in it that they looked like ghosts, the city so buried that you’d have been forgiven for thinking of a nuclear winter. Dark grey choking snow covering everything.
But today I’m going to try to remember 9/11 in a different way. I’m going to remember the day when the worst in human nature was beaten by the best. When the actions of 19 men were met by the heroism of thousands. When a hate crime was met with a million selfless acts. I’ll try to remember flight United 93, where the passengers sacrificed themselves to save lives. Hatred met love on that plane, and lost spectacularly.
The world changed in an instant that day in some kind of anti-epiphany. We’re still finding out what those changes mean and trying to figure out where the shockwaves will end. I haven’t a clue, myself. I’ll leave that kind of thinking for much smarter men and women than me. I’ll just try to keep my feet when the earth shakes, and live my life as if things like that will never happen again. I’ll be as brave and bold and happy as I can be. I’ll try to make 9/11 2011 a good day. I’ll try to make my answer to hatred a happy enjoyment of my freedom and family and life and loves. It’s the least I can do.