how to remember

Yahoo has come up with a site that allows people to create a tribute tile to remember the lives that were lost in the terrorist attacks. Everyone is trying to do something to express their feelings, whether it be a moment of silence, paintings, singing Mozart’s Requiem, driving with your headlights on or making a 3,000 square foot mural.

If you’ll permit me to rise onto a soapbox for a minute, remembering last year’s attacks will not change the fact that they happened. My hope is that we can learn from them and take actions which will avoid similar tragedies in the future. Dwelling on the past is a natural inclination, but not necessarily wise. The biggest honor we could pay to those who died is to become better people. If the activities of today cause you to express love to a family member, smile at a stranger, stop for someone trying to cross the street or help someone out in any way, they will have been a success. Simple, daily acts can make a permanent change in our society, whereas a public event paying tribute to those who died will soon be forgotten. If we revert to our self-absorbed lifestyles of September 10, 2001 and before, the efforts to remember those who lost their lives will have come and gone in vain.


 (Post a comment) | Comments RSS feed
  1. Well said. It seems like everything that is done in “rememberance” of these incidents is for the sole purpose of being seen on TV or to have your picture taken for the record – “See how *I* remembered 9/11?”. There’s a fairly popular line from a fairly unpopular book that goes something like this, “…mourning in public places, they have their reward”. I would much rather have a private moment of reflection, than watch CNN’s 24 hour, minute by minute coverage of the star studded gala in honor of those fallen.

    Comment by jason on September 11, 2002 @ 9:41 am
  2. Indeed. Well spoken, Dan. I think the reason that people are so focussed on rememberances is that it’s easier to look behind than to look inward. It makes us feel better to join with others in grieving than it does to examine ourselves and try to understand the things that got us in this mess in the first place, things like prejudice and anger.

    Nothing we can do will bring those we lost back to us. But we can certainly do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Comment by Jim on September 11, 2002 @ 11:42 am
  3. Boy, I could sure write a lot here. I agree with you; it happened, it was horrible, it’s over, move on. I just don’t see the point of dwelling on it.
    Also, I’m somewhat annoyed by the overuse of the word hero. Basically, anyone who lost their life in the WTC is being called a hero. While it sucks that they died, that doesn’t mean they are a hero. Of course, there were heros there, but calling everyone a hero weakens the meaning and subtracts from the true meaning that a select few deserve. On a tangent for analogical purposes, it’s like standing ovations — in Utah, the public will give one to everyone, even if they suck it seems. I call for a moderation in all things.
    my $0.36

    Comment by Cameron Harr on September 11, 2002 @ 4:50 pm
  4. I think there is far more emphasis placed on what America can do to heal. Personally however it is more what the individual can do to evoke change in himself. Yeah we had a big loss but now it is time to look at self and then make things happen.

    Comment by whaleman on September 11, 2002 @ 4:57 pm
  5. It is interesting that I’m not the only one who is having difficulty stomaching all of this.

    I have to add my $0.02 here. First, you have to realize that for those who are mourning, it is important for them to know that their lost loved ones are remembered. I’m not a psychologist, but my mother and sister were killed in a small airplane accident about 5 years ago and my family and I had to go (and still are) through this mourning process. I can relate to how the victims families are responding to this, at a certain level. So dwelling on the past is a part of the healing that must take place for these people. I really don’t have a problem with this. The country, as a whole, is also mourning and needs to go through the same process. Obviously, we all will want do do this in different ways.

    Having said that, there are plenty of people (and news organizations, political figures, etc) that are riding the emotions of the people and profiting from this all. That is what is sickening about it.

    Second, I think that we as Americans, and the media, largely ignore the reasons the Arab world despises us. Not to mention a the US foreign policy, we have an extremely egotistical and offensive attitudes; individually and collectivly. I heard Bill Maher (of Politically Incorrect fame) on Larry King live a few months ago and he summed up our arogant attitudes well.

    When asked about how he thought Americans could have changed following these attacks, Bill Maher said:

    “I mean, can you imagine in World War II, when we were saving tin and stuff like that, if somebody said, you know what, I’ll use all the damn tin I feel like. I’m an American. This is nonsense that we have to be loyal to our flaws. Yeah, I’m dumb and I don’t know much about foreigners and I eat like a pig and I waste a lot of stuff, but that’s American. You know, I mean, this silly theory people have that if you do anything differently, they win. Well, no. If you become less gluttonous, less greedy, less myopic, more savvy about the world in general, they don’t win; you win. We all win.”

    When we realize why they are so mad, not just state the reason, but understand the reason, we can start to fix the problem.

    Until then we just live like we always have and let the spin docters talk about the past attacks and future threats 24/7 on TV.

    Comment by scott on September 11, 2002 @ 5:41 pm
  6. While I agree with your post I have to ask, “What have we done since 9/11 to change?” It’s easy to remember and mourn once each year and it’s easy to say we need to do something but the real test comes when we honestly ask ourselves what have we done differently since 9/11 and really do it.

    Our lives are busy and full as it is. I see people who pay lip service to 9/11 but have done nothing at all as a result to change themselves or the world we live in. It sickens me to hear people like this talk about the events when they are not willing to lift a finger to make a difference because that would require sacrifice.

    That being said, I’m sure there are a very few that act without my knowledge and my feelings are misplaced in those cases, but as a whole, I believe my generality is accurate.

    Comment by Rick on September 13, 2002 @ 12:03 pm
  7. Rick,

    I have made a concerted effort to do little things that will help people. I prefer not to toot my horn though I won’t, but at least you know one person who has made an effort to be a better person and help those around me.

    Comment by dan on September 13, 2002 @ 8:10 pm
  8. I know there are people that are doing things differently but my contention is that it is a vary small minority. The average Joe I talk to doesn’t do anything differently.

    Oh, thanks for changing.

    Comment by Rick on September 16, 2002 @ 2:55 pm
  9. Have you ever heard the story of the starfish?

    A young boy went down to the beach one day and discovered that the beach was littered with starfish. They were dying because they had been stranded on the beach. Horrified, he started running across the beach, gathering the starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. An older man watched the boy for a few minutes, then walked over and asked him “Why are you doing this? You can’t save them all…you won’t make a difference.” The boy turned to the man, a starfish in his hand and pondered, then he turned towards the ocean and threw the starfish in. He gazed back at the man and said, “I made all the difference in the world to that one.”

    So you see, even if only one person does something nice, they made a difference.

    Comment by dan on September 16, 2002 @ 4:32 pm

Comments are closed