Memory Lane: September 10, 2001

For a lot of people, it was probably a very normal day.

It was not a normal day for me.

It was the day I landed in Florence, Italy, with my husband of nine days. For our honeymoon.

I didn’t speak the language. I was the tallest, thinnest, most flat-chested woman for miles around. I was excited, nervous, and tired. And happy. Happy to be on my honeymoon in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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A couple days before our flight, Dan and I drove to Philadelphia. Our friend J had agreed to drive us from Philly to NYC so we could catch our flight.

I don’t know WHY he agreed to this. I don’t know why I thought Philly was just a couple of hours outside of NYC. But, there you have it.

Driving into New York City was spectacular. We came in (in heavy traffic) across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. We could see, tiny and green in the distance, the Statue of Liberty. We could also see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

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Not everyone had normal days on Sept. 10, 2001. My friend M gave birth to my godson H, her second child that day.  Babies were born, people went on their honeymoons, people lived and died.

I guess it was normal, compared to what came after.

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It’s been difficult, for me personally, listening to the news this week, seeing the documentaries on TV. It’s not that I want to act normal on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 — which is to say that I don’t want to act like nothing happened. I could easily say that 9/11 didn’t affect me, personally. I wasn’t even in the country when it happened. My life had already been fairly significantly altered from “normal”, switching to a life in tandem with someone.

And I don’t want the victims of 9/11 to be forgotten. I am glad there are memorials with their names on it.

But this week-long memorializing (and analyzing and essay-izing) has been somewhat brutal. And I wonder if it’s the right thing for our country.

Again, not because I don’t want to pretend nothing happened, or forget the lives that were lost that day. I want my children to learn about it as part of American history — a dark part. America has some of that, dark, unpleasant parts of its history.

But I wonder if this continual remembering is… good for America? Good for the American psyche? As Julie Marsh posits here, the way we recall 9/11 casts us as victims, and that’s not a good thing.

So maybe we can be normal, and still be respectful. A moment of silence, a visit to Ground Zero or Shanksville, PA. But let’s not forget, like every time someone has died, that life for the rest of us goes on.

A new normal. As it has to be for our country, now, too. Ten years later, it’s time to stop looking back, and start looking to what’s next. To think about how we — collectively, individually — have changed, and how to carry that into our future.