[My sentiments on this topic tend to get a lot of backlash. I do not intend to offend or devalue any of the lives lost in the event of 9/11. However, I do not apologize for anything that I have to say in the following post. If you find this reading upsetting, please do not feel the need to continue.]
I don’t think that September 11th should be a national holiday. I don’t like remembering it the way the rest of the country does, and, in a way, I don’t think it should be remembered at all.
Tomorrow will mark ten years since the planes fell out of the sky. We haven’t even hit this anniversary yet, and I am already sick of the hype surrounding it. I don’t mean to be irreverent, but the build up is intense & unnecessary. For the past week I have seen Facebook posts reminding me of the impending date, footage & interviews on the news, and heartbreaking stories of those left without mothers & fathers almost everywhere. The nasty wounds of this tragedy are, again, being torn open. In fact, for the past 10 years, the first 10 days of September are always dedicated to reliving the event, leaving the nation with an open & festering sore. How long will we grieve like this? How long will we be angry like this?
Like most Americans, I remember the date with the most excruciating detail. I remember the taste of the coffee I was drinking. I remember the way the sky looked. I remember the smell of the not-quite-autumn air coming through the sliding glass doors. I remember confusion, then fear in my mother’s eyes. It came out of nowhere and it was so horrific. I didn’t understand what was happening until I saw the second plane hit. That second plane made me sick. I was afraid for the entire world at that moment. But it was only for a moment.
I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about all the people trapped or their families that would lose them. I was a selfish seventeen-year-old senior in high school and was far more concerned with MY loved ones that I knew would soon be shipped out to the country that was responsible for this. I wasn’t entirely aware of what was going on, but I knew that my friends who had recently joined the various branches of the military would be shaped up & shipped out to seek revenge on this horrible act of violence, and I feared for their lives. I feared for the impending loss that I knew I would soon feel.
Despite being the selfish teenager that I was, I was also a lot different than the average American. I was a Christian. I had attended church nearly every Sunday of my short 17 years. I was an active member of the Youth Group, and truly believed in what I had been taught by my religious leaders. That night when I went to bed, I prayed. I prayed very, very hard. But I did not pray for the Americans that were lost; I knew that they had the rest of the world praying for them & they would be alright. Instead, I prayed for the men who hijacked the planes & crashed them. I begged forgiveness for them. My heart ached for those people & their families because they, just like us, truly believed in what they were doing. They believed in it to the point where they were willing to die for their beliefs. No, I did not in any way think that what they did was right & my forgiveness should never be misconstrued for condoning. But, in a strange way, I could see their point. And it made me feel very bad. I don’t believe in martyrdom. I don’t believe its necessarily wrong, I just believe there has to be another way. I guess I just wanted God to know that they didn’t mean to do anything wrong. They thought they were doing something right, so somehow they should be forgiven by someone. I was willing to be that someone, even if I was the only someone.
Then, while sitting on my bed I had another bad feeling. A sickening thought overwhelmed my brain as I recalled the shootings at Columbine which took place my freshman year of high school. There were two girls who apparently were shot for affirming their faith in God. The following Sunday, this was discussed in our Youth Group. Naturally we talked about Peter’s denial of Jesus, the cock crowing three times, and what it all meant. The seven high schoolers and three middle schoolers that sat in a circle with Bibles perched on their knees were then asked the very direct question: “Would you affirm your Faith at gun point?” Some said yes. Some said maybe. Some said that they really didn’t know what they would do. I said no. My answer was met with a bit of shock.
I said no, because I don’t believe God wants us to die.
But who am I to say what God wants? I am guilty too.
Twelve days before the planes fell, I attempted suicide. There was no real reason. I was just very depressed and very selfish. But whether I wanted to or not, I had survived. Amongst all that death and martyrdom, I had survived. Somewhere around September 8th I had already accepted the fact that I was going to live and that God did not want me to die. I didn’t necessarily like this fact, but I could live with it. But contemplating these two horrific incidents alone in the dark f my room really shook me up.
Was there something wrong with me? Was there something wrong with mankind? With God?
Now every year for 10 years I remember the torment of sitting alone on my bed, thinking of people dying, and questioning myself, my religion. Some years I feel guilty over what I did the two weeks prior to the Event. Some years I don’t. But, I have never felt sad or afraid since that day because I know it can’t fix anything. Fear, anger, hatred, even guilt: it won’t bring anyone back. It won’t put the planes back in the sky & it won’t put the pills back in the bottle. The lives lost should be honored & remembered in the most loving way, however the anger and hatred & need for justice/revenge needs to be ignored on the 11th.
This year, I choose not to remember 9/11. I made peace with the Event 12 hours after it happened, and spiritually speaking, I am okay with everything. I am not going to spend another anniversary apologizing to myself or to God for what I did or for what anyone else has done. It was one moment among many & I cannot grieve for it because there will be more moments needing an equal amount of attention. The Event should be ignored; footage should be put away. 9/11 should be a day to honor & remember life-life of those who made it & those you lost it, no matter when, where, or how. America, stop tearing open your wounds year after year. These people that are lost to us are lost every day, not just on September 11th. Remember them always without an Event or hype.