Sunday, September 11, 2011

"I Wish 9/11 Never Happened!"

"I wish 9/11 never happened!!" That is what my 9-year-old son said this morning when I turned off the TV  and said I couldn't watch the coverage of the 10-year anniversary anymore. He knew what I meant immediately. "It's too painful?" he asked. Yes, too painful. Most years, I avoid television coverage on the anniversary of 9/11. I don't want to relive that day. I started boycotting the coverage, because I imagined the terrorists sitting around in Afghanistan or wherever, enjoying the hell out of the annual angst this country goes through, enjoying seeing our pain, our sadness, our anger, our fear. After all, isn't that the primary goal of terrorism? To instill pain and fear? That day was a glorious success for them, and part of me wished we could just forget it and not give them the satisfaction. I avoided coverage, avoided seeing those images again, avoided feeling the shock and horror.

"I wish 9/11 never happened!" I tried to think of something soothing to say as I headed upstairs to hide my tears from my sons; like something positive that came out of it, some profound lesson we all learned, some lasting unity brought to our great nation. But no, I couldn't come up with anything, and so I just continued up the stairs, surprised at how much pain and sadness the coverage brought to the surface.

"I wish 9/11 never happened!" I do too. I wish those people didn't die. Each person was a son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father, brother, sister, friend. Each story is unbelievably sad. I watched a special last night on the History channel that focused on voices heard on that day, crying the whole time: voicemail messages left by people in the upper floors telling their loved ones goodbye; a recording of the radio dispatches from the firefighter who made it all the way to the 77th floor of the South Tower, before it collapsed into a mountain of dust; stories from family members who actually got to talk to their loved one live on the phone who were trapped, awaiting their fate. Every single story is tragic and heartbreaking, and there are thousands of them from that day, an overwhelming thought.

I wish this country had not spent billions of dollars on futile wars, causing the loss of so many additional people.

I wish our fear had not been used to trample our civil rights and protections under the Constitution and justify torture.

I wish that a whole religion had not been tainted by the acts of a radical few, leading to bigotry, discrimination and hatred.

I wish the 9/11 first responders who survived were not still suffering today from a variety of illnesses and injuries. I wish they didn't have to fight for benefits to cover these illnesses.

I wish the twin towers were still standing.

I wish 9/11 never happened.


rachel said...

What a poignant piece! I cannot watch the coverage either, our obsession with this tragedy and loss is too painful for me as well. 10 years is not long enough. I don't know when it will be long enough, maybe never, but I can't do it now.

ElisaC said...

OMG, that special with the voice messages sounds horrifying. I KNOW I could not watch that.

I'm watching tennis, not 9/11 coverage today.

While I'm fascinated by the individual stories of people and how they experienced it, I really don't want to see what traditional media pundits have to say about it, and I definitely don't want to hear any political analysis.

I will say this: While I was in NYC that week, the two politicians who rose above with their leadership and eloquence were Republican then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Democrat then-Senator Hillary Clinton.

Nothing will ever change the admiration I had for them both in that week. End of story.

Cristina said...

Thanks, Rachel.

Tennis wasn't too uplifting today either, Elisa. I was really hoping Serena would pull it off! I definitely had to turn the channel whenever I came across pundits today.

Anonymous said...

I felt sad and it nearly tears me down watching the documentary. I was a New York native living in Upper West Side and I can remember that I saw the Towers collapsed. After both towers collapsed, the Towers seemed vanished. How I wish that it never happened at all!