Remembering to Forget, But Not Forgetting to Remember

I typically make it a habit of not getting into religious or political conversations, because my opinions aren’t exactly popular.  I tend to make people angry because I approach both subjects with logic instead of emotion.  But everyone keeps asking why I’ve been so silent the last 48 hours.  Since people have asked, I’ll risk angering the entire country by telling you.

Yes, I remember 2001.  The whole year, for the most part, sucked.  Contained in that year was a series of unfortunate events that still haunt me, even ten years later.

It started in February with my 19th birthday and a torn tendon in my foot. I was in my second semester of college, on crutches, and having to hobble from one class to another in buildings on opposite sides of the College of Charleston campus.

Suck #1.

July 12, 2001 is a day that will haunt me for the rest of my life.  That morning saw the death of my Aunt Connie.  She was my world, and when I woke up that morning, I found out that she was gone.  It was partly a relief, because she’d suffered for so long…but it was hard to let her go.  Even now, I still can’t believe that she’s been gone ten years.

And whoever said that time makes it easier is full of shit.  It still hurts just as much today as it did the day they buried her.  Yes, I still cry every single time I think about her, because I miss her so much.

Suck #2.

In August, a good friend got married.  The next day I got on a plane and flew 9 hours to Germany to spend three weeks with one of my best friends.  I hadn’t seen Mark in a year, and I was so excited.  Within 12 hours of landing, I developed this horrible feeling that something was wrong with my mother.  Naturally, she wouldn’t tell me what was going on when I called, so I spent the entire time I was there worrying about her.  Come to find out, she’d been in a horrible car accident that totaled her car.  Fortunately, she was alright.

Suck #3.

Then, a week to the day after I got off the plane, my mother came running into my bedroom screaming about an out of control plane hitting the World Trade Center.  I still remember that morning clearly.  The whole conversation…watching the live feed as it happened…all of it.  I stood there, staring at that tiny, little television in abject horror, watching the events unfold and the realization that this wasn’t just some accident.  That someone had attacked this country ON PURPOSE.  That day was the first time I’d ever used profanity in front of my mother.  She didn’t notice.

The rest of that week was like walking through fog; it just didn’t seem real.

Suck #4.

So yeah, I remember it all.  Yesterday marked ten years since the last of those horrible events.   It was a day for reflection, remembrance, and above all, letting go.

You see, my opinion is in the vast minority…where it usually stays.  I realized yesterday that this nation is still very much living in the past.  We are frozen in time, held captive by memories of one of the most horrific and most tragic events in our country’s history.  Television yesterday was a depressing parade of the same happenings from different angles.  There were a few inspirational stories in which some of the lesser-known heroes were showcased…but for the most part it was just a re-hash of the things we’ve all seen a thousand times before.

And I look at it this way:  the longer we live in the past and dwell on those happenings, the longer the ones that did it win.  They want us to hyper-focus on it.  They want us hurt and angry and scared and confused.  That gives them the upper hand, because the people that did this have no fear.

We’ve had ten years to mourn the incident.  It’s time for this nation as a whole to move on.

I’m not saying that those who lost loved ones should just forget… not at all.  Those who died should always be remembered.  What I’m saying is that we need to stop being victimized by the attack.  By living in the past, our future grows bleaker.  We need to pull ourselves out of the wallowing self-pity, and look toward tomorrow.  We need to place these horrible memories in the past and use them as a foundation to build a better future.

We also need to remember that random acts of evil take place in other countries every day.  We are not unique in that aspect.  We’ve had our time to be angry and hurt.  It’s time to let the negativity go and turn it around.  This country needs to close the door on that chapter of history and begin a new one, a better one that involves rebuilding this country from the foundation up.

So that’s where I stand.  Not popular, I know… but logically I do know that it’s time to move on.

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