I remember where I was on September 11th 2001, and I’m willing to bet that most people of my age and older can say the same. Despite being 3,500 miles away, the country I resided in was gripped in horror by the scenes unfolding on the news. My parents were particularly troubled by it, understandably far more so than my eight-year-old self who couldn’t quite grasp what it meant, and so when my mother paid me a visit the memorial was something we particularly wanted to see.
I was wrestling with this concept and my desire to visit a memorial. Since I wasn’t personally affected, that is to say I didn’t know anyone who died from the atrocities carried out on the USA on that fateful day, for what reason should I become a spectator of tragedy? Indeed some of the families of the victims criticised the memorial before it’s completion, taking offence at the idea of their loved ones sharing a resting place with museum-goers.
The answer was given to me almost as soon as I entered the museum attached to the memorial.
“No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time” – Virgil
The quote rings out from a wall covered in blue, each a representation of the colour of the sky on 9/11 from a plethora of artists.
But did you know that the attacks on the twin towers weren’t the only tragedy to occur on the 11th of September. In 1973 the date marked the start of a terrible dictatorship in Chile, after the killing of the democratically elected President Salvador Allende which was aided by the US government, leading to the murder, torture and exile of tens of thousands of Chileans. If this is unfamiliar to you, know that it was to me too until very recently. Of course there are also an incomprehensible number of other tragedies, big and small, that have occurred on this day through history too too, just as they have every other day of the year.
I don’t wish to detract from the severity of what the USA experienced nearly 14 years ago. England too suffered the effects of terrorism just five short years later, a fact that I was confronted with this week in light of the tenth anniversary. It is bizarre experience to recall a nationwide suffering and shock retrospectively as an adult, having witnessed such events on the news as a child, but I can begin to understand why the two events have had such lasting impressions on our nations, just as I can understand Chileans, and others who were affected, feeling indignant that their 9/11 (0r 11/9) goes unnoticed by most who can only see the act of violence in 2001.
Nor do I wish to preach. I merely request that any of my lovely readers who have journeyed with me through this post think. Think of all the suffering that doesn’t make the mainstream (Western) media. Think of what you can do to help any situation where hatred and intolerance lead to the deaths of innocent people. These people may be faceless, and beyond our true understanding of what happened to them, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Most of all we should never forget that evil is happening, even if it isn’t in the history books or popular news, and genocides have happened far more recently than the concentration camps of WWII. No one who unjustly suffered should be erased from the memory of time.
This isn’t my usually frivolous post but I make no apologies. It is only in confronting uncomfortable realities that we may have hope towards progress.
Oh and as far as the memorial itself goes, I think it is beautiful and touching. Two fountains are in the place of the foundations and the names of the deceased are carved into the edges, above one of which a simple white rose was placed in, what I can only presume was, love and remembrance. It, like so many memorials around the world, is worth a visit to pay respect to the pain and suffering so needlessly felt by millions.