Monday, September 11, 2006

"american elegy"

Today's September 11, 2006- five years after the fall of the Twin Towers.

Five years ago, I was a freshman in high school, in Mrs. Swan's SRP, and I remember Mrs. Swan being pulled out by another teacher before coming back in and turning on the TV in the classroom. By that time, the first tower had been hit and the second was hit within a few minutes of us turning on the TV. I think it seemed sort of surreal to most of us, and a lot of us knew it must be a big deal but it didn't quite seem like it yet. It seemed kind of unbelievable, and everyone was surprised and buzzing about it, but I think few of us in the middle of Indiana felt a huge connection or realized what a big deal it was right away.

Before the attacks, I'd never heard of the World Trade Center or Twin Towers. I'd never been to New York, didn't know anyone who lived there, and the entire event seemed really distant. Yes, the footage and stories were terrible, but despite it being in the same country as me, things didn't "hit home." I feel sorry for people who lost loved ones or went through part of the experience, but it's hard for me to distinguish between 9/11 and traumatic events in other countries or other time periods. For a lot of people, I think 9/11 signified the first time they felt threatened here in this country- the first time we felt vulnerable. I guess, honestly, I never felt that vulnerability.

I think initially I felt as shocked as almost anyone, but the media has desensitized us to 9/11. It's not that they tried to, but there was so much media coverage, so many pictures released, so many email forwards sent out, so many television specials (there is nothing else ON tonight), so many ceremonies, even a movie... the shock has worn off. I've heard so many stories of heroism that they're no longer inspiring and amazing; rather, it's just another story among many. The videos that at first were shocking have become familiar, like an action movie replayed a thousand times and losing some of the excitement.

Sometimes I feel kind of bad for not ever getting really upset, or for not really doing anything specifically to remember 9/11 after the fact. Some people would probably see me as a terrible person, but I would rather not participate in elaborate remembrances and such if I'm not sincere. I would rather appear unsympathetic than fake sorrow. It's not that I don't appreciate the sacrifices of 9/11's heroes or the courage of those on the planes or the loss and sorrow of so many people-- it's just that, for me, 9/11 didn't affect me personally, and didn't feel real or close to me. I'm sad, but I can't feel a particular connection to the tragedy. I wonder how many other Americans have similar sentiments... and how many would admit it.


Ryan said...

I think it takes a lot of guts to admit something like that. I've always had similar feelings- yes it was awful, yes I can't even begin to imagine what it was like. People always want everybody to feel the same Kenny Chesney flag waving stars and stripes core sadness for the "homeland", but individual reactions are so varied.

I've never been to New York, much less the city. I've never been close. I don't know anybody or anything over there...I felt detached. Saddened, but distant.

It just seemed like violence, destruction, media sensationalism/coverage, and statistics. Like in the middle east, like in was just hard for me to connect.

Compare that to the 2003 Columbia disaster. I was glued to the tv, the radio, the internet, hoping, waiting, nervous and anxious for any news or development. I obviously have never been there, and I didn't know anybody personally involved, but it was very personal to me. Accordingly, it was very significant to me and I followed it with intense interest. It was my equivalent to the Challenger disaster.

Just my two cents. <3

luckeyfrog said...

That's exactly it-- I was sad, but it didn't change my life. I didn't feel an overwhelming sense of patriotism all of a sudden, or cry, or anything... it was just distant.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post but I felt I should. I know what you mean about the detached feeling. I was a quite a bit younger than you; I was in 5th grade when 9/11 happened. I didn't even know about it til that evening. For me, it was like hearing about an earthquake in California. Was an extremely detached feeling. The one that truly hit home for me was Virginia Tech last year; I live not 2 hours from Tech. I have friends that were there; I have friends living less than 30 minutes from Tech. That was the true fright for me.

luckeyfrog said...

Virginia Tech hit home a little more for me, too. One, I'm a college student who could see that the same thing could happen at my own school. Two, even though I've still never been close to VT, some of my very close family friends went to school there. There was SOME sort of connection, so it shocked me more, and made a bigger impact.