Photographer's Note

I know I'm three days late for the anniversary of 9/11, but in my defense, I've been insanely busy preparing to move next week to Calgary. Better a late tribute than none, I suppose.

The thirteenth anniversary didn't generate quite the headlines that the tenth anniversary did, but for those of us who were alive at the time--particularly we Americans--we'll remember just as vividly on the 54th or 73rd anniversary. I took this picture in May during my visit to the 9/11 memorial. Nothing special about the picture technically, but the subject is sacred.

Looking at this picture, I was reminded of words I jotted down into my journal in a brief burst of inspiration on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. I had been watching coverage of the commemorations and reliving again the horror and anguish of that fateful day. But one thing affected me even more than the 10-year old footage. I'm not in the habit of getting particularly personal on TE, but here's what I wrote:

Looking at photos of the ceremony, I couldnt help but be struck by the family members standing or kneeling in front of the names of those killed in the attacks. I found it both captivating and heart-wrenching that these grieving people, bereft of the physical and emotional presence of their family members, reached out to the names on the memorial. Touching them, running their fingers across them, tracing them, mourning them. The unique names, 2,977 of them. Just two or three or maybe four words each, representing in that brief space a truncated lifetime of joy, discouragement, triumph, setbacks, dreams, and fears. Combinations of just 20 to 30 letters eachbut portals to memories of family events, friendships, service, love, and grieving. Those names, each representing the center node of a network of hundreds of lives that were forever touched for having known the person the name representsand forever shattered for having that person taken so soon from their lives. All of this, represented in two or three proper nouns that came to represent a human life and now act as a proxy in its absence...

...I fear that the same thing will happen with the events of September 11 that has happened with Pearl Harbor. I worry that as the focus shifts from telling the stories of those who died and those who survived and where we were and what we were doing when we heard, to a more summary-level textbook history discussionI worry that future generations will learn little more about the attacks than that 4 jetliners were hijacked, 2 crashed into the World Trade Center, 1 into the Pentagon, and 1 in a field in Pennsylvania; that 2,977 people lost their lives; that the hijackers were terrorists; and that the attacks sparked a War on Terror. And nothing else. All of those statements are facts, but they sound so sterile, so devoid of sentiment, so clinical. Whatever else 9/11 was, it was not an event that allowed any American to be emotionally detached from its terror and tragedy, especially not those who lost loved ones.

I want my children and their children to know what a horrific, numbing, and world-shattering event it was. We had grown up in the Reagan and the Clinton yearsno major wars, no lasting economic disasters, perhaps some knowledge of atrocities in the world in Rwanda, East Germany, and other places, but nothing like that in our own lives. This was the United States of Americathings like that just didnt happen here. How nave we were. How wonderfully sheltered and horribly deluded to think that suffering was the common lot of all mankind not born in the USA. Its become a clich to say that everything changes after a major tragedy, but its triteness doesnt diminish its truthfulness. Everything about our worldview changed.

I'll never forget.

aliabazari, Royaldevon, timecapturer, worldcitizen, jean113 has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by Clark Monson (cdmonson) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 383 W: 53 N: 1020] (5304)
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