While I agree with Dr. S about what rememberence is, I have a slightly different take on the whole 9/11 event. I know that I risk being slammed hard for stating my feelings so starkly, but I don't think I am alone and 5 years later, I think we should all be able to speak frankly. For starters, it did NOT change my life as the media would have me believe. I resent the constant chanting that it did. I know what changes my life and what doesn't. The election of G.W. Bush changed my life, and that pre-dated 9/11. I am living in California and I have never been to New York. So while 9/11 is tragic, it might as well of happened in a different country.
Secondly, we missed a huge opportunity in our response to 9/11. It should have been a moment when he took advantage of world sympathy to build international coalitions and to reflect on the blowback of our foriegn policy. We should have redoubled our efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and worked with Arab leaders to bolster moderate Islam through humanitarian means. That is the long-term war we should have fought. Instead, we navel gazed and islolated ourselves.
Christopher Lydon,host of NPR's Open Source dug up an interesting quote from American Writer, Philip Roth. I don't think I have heard it put better than this. Philip Roth was being asked about the assessment of 9/11 and if we were gaining some wisdom from it. He said the following:
I really don't know and I don't care. That interests me as a citizen, but not as a novelist. September 11th is not something I can draw on at an imaginative level. The only story I can take from it is the kitsch in all its horror-not the horror in what happened, but the great distortion of what happened. It's almost embarrassing, the kitschification of 3,000 people's deaths. Other cities have experienced far worse catastrophes. America itself has inflicted some in its past, even if it was for the right reasons. I am not a pacifist. One wouldn't dream of slighting these people, it is awful, but we need to keep a sense of proportion about these things. What we've been witnessing since 9/11 is an orgy of national narcissism and a gratuitous sense of victimization that is repellant and it doesn't stop, even now it is impossible to watch a baseball game without having to listen to "God Bless America" before hand or without being asked to remember our heroes. I feel like saying ,"Stop. Dignity demands that you stop it."
This quote, according to Lydon, is from a long lost interview with Roth in 2002 in the Independent of London. It appeared on the web, quickly disappeared, and isn't referenced anywhere that I could find. Lydon mentioned having had the same experience. I searched high and low for a copy of the interview with no luck. So if anyone is able to dig it up, great! In any case, what he says is as true today as it was the day he said it.