The problem with remembering 9/11

In the past, I have written a handful of essays and articles about 9/11 and its impact on the Muslim American community. What I have not done is written about it as an American. In the wake of 9/11 and the heinous attacks committed by Islamic extremists over the years, my voice as an American was silenced. My right to an opinion on anything seemed to depend on my religious upbringing as if people could see nothing else. This is me remedying that.

I think we have an obsession with wanting people to know we remember. I was afraid to say this before because I know some asshole is going to come at me with the Muslim card saying some dumb racist crap, but fuck it.

Don't get me wrong, it's healthy to remember events like 9/11 but I don't think it's healthy for us to keep reliving it each year. We remember the fallen, the first responders and on this day each year, we should keep them in our thoughts and remember their bravery. But 16 years after September 11, we need to ask ourselves, what has this annual remembrance morphed into?

I read an article on Yahoo! some years back in which the commenters were using 9/11 anniversaries to reignite their hate for Muslims. In the same article, I saw a comment by a 9/11 survivor who talked about her dread whenever September 11 rolled around. She was immobilized; didn't want to leave the house or go online the week before or after because all people would talk about was the one day she was trying hard to forget but knew she never would.

I don't know about you but I don't need a bumper sticker or a sign that says "We will never forget," to make me never forget. I'm perfectly capable of not forgetting on my own. We all are.

We might also want to take a hard look at the words we use. Anniversary? Seriously? This isn't a happy marriage we're celebrating. We're not celebrating at all. We are mourning. My hope is for 9/11 to become a 2/15 or 3/1...just another date in a calendar not because we should forget it, but because we need to carry on. Aren't we the ones always saying "Stop living in the past?"

Why do we continue to torture ourselves?

It may seem harsh but over a decade later remembering something horrific seems like a sadistic ritual to torture the survivors and general public alike than it is commemorating how resilient we are and sending our love to the people we lost and their families.

We are saddened. We are resilient. We are in the present.

So why are we still living in the past?
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    I don't have a problem with folks trying to remember. I try to remember many who have walked on before me. As long as no harm comes from remeberances I see nothing wrong. But.... with 9/11 it's different for me. The amount of hatred that comes this is horrific. It's as if we want to remember the horror, not the people involved, those souls that perished, including the almost 200,000 who have died in Iraq alone since that day. One does not hear about those others in all the memorials. I am deeply saddened by all of this. We as a people have not learned anything from this.
    It's been 16 years since that sad day. I believe we need to change in a big way or we might not be here in another 16.

  • Thank you for a well-argued piece, remembering that "argue" can mean a logical process rather than a fight. However, I think that 16 years is a very short time historically, and we're learning that. What were World War II memorials like in 1961 or thereabouts? (I was born in '63 and heard about WWII as "the war" from grownups even as Vietnam raged.)
    I have trouble on the anniversaries of painful dates in general, and admitting it is one step to getting through it. Trouble here is that we all have to get through a very bad day -- again. Last night, I got some peace by remembering the people who helped me through it in 2001 and reaching out to them. I recommend it still today.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    I understand completely. There isn't a right or wrong amount of time to mourn or remember, but I do hope we are becoming stronger as the years pass. As you said, reaching out to others to ask for help is wonderful advice.

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    I just remembered....
    Years ago National Geographic did a piece on the Vietnam War Memorial. The next issue had all these remberance of soldiers that served there and how the pictures had them come to terms with their feelings. These testimonials were so powerful, much more than the article itself, in my opinion. Sometimes words and or images can trigger healing, as painful as the process may be. I say keep on sharing all perspectives. There is not just one way.
    Someone just posted on Facebook how while the services on 9/11 were taking place there were those taking selfies and smiling. Perhaps the Japanese have it right, we should errect torii's to make the beginning of sacred space.

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