So, It’s The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

“What arrived instead [of a “selfless wartime patriotism”], sadly enough, was another hijacking—of 9/11 by those who exploited it for motives large and petty, both ideological and crassly ­commercial. The most lethal of these hijackings was the Bush administration’s repurposing of 9/11 for a war against a country that had not attacked us. So devilishly clever was the selling of the Saddam-for-Osama bait-and-switch that almost half the country would come to believe that Iraqis were among the 9/11 hijackers. No less shabby, if far less catastrophic, was the milking of 9/11 for the lesser causes of self-promotion and product placement by those seeking either power or profit. From the Bush-reelection campaign ad with an image of a flag-draped stretcher carrying remains at ground zero to the donning of flag pins by television anchors and pandering politicians, no opportunistic appropriation of 9/11 was too sleazy to be off-limits.”

– Frank Rich, 9/11: Days End

I didn’t want to write anything about 9/11 on Autostraddle today but I was outvoted in our editorial meeting.  I was reminded that a lot of you probably are surrounded by people with opinions about 9/11 which resolutely differ from your own, and that a “safe space” of sorts would be expected. I was reminded that it’s an important political event, not just a day when I think a lot of people’s outsized entitlement to grieve does a disservice to those whose lives were actually tangibly impacted by 9/11 and its ensuing wars. I didn’t want to seem like one of those people. I worry that my feelings about 9/11 are, at best, irrelevant, and, at worst, inappropriate.

But mostly it’s that, in my opinion, the mainstream media’s handling of 9/11 — during, after, and right this very minute — was/is the most catastrophically inappropriate and shamefully exploitative media coverage of any event in my lifetime. And I lived through The Gulf War (which, according to the news, was a war between avatars; news networks, lacking photographs from the ground, complacently accepted the government’s post-Vietnam informational muzzle tactics and used computer graphics on-air to illustrate its pre-packaged propaganda).

So, saying anything at all makes me feel like I’m a part of that machine. I didn’t lose anyone that day, though like many New York City residents (I lived in NYC in spells during the early ’00s, moved there for good in 2004 and left in 2010) I know many people who did lose someone that day and for them I think this day is entirely different than it is for the rest of us. Their grief is tangible and insurmountable and I imagine that grief can only be appropriately dealt with far away from whatever’s on television or in the news today or anything I could write here. And so it makes me insane when these shows use this very real, very painful grief to justify their marketing strategies.

40 TV specials about 9/11 are available for your consumption today including Animal Planet’s Hero Dogs of 9/11 and Oprah Winfrey Network’s Twins of the Twin Towers, about twins who died in the Twin Towers. The National Geographic Channel has devoted itself to 9/11 programming all week.  Today CNN will air four separate documentaries about 911.  Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has released a new song for the occasion — a “reflection on 9/11.”  NBC, ABC and CBS’s evening anchors started work at 8 a.m. EST to cover memorials and, after the memorial, all these networks will pre-empt regular coverage for 9/11 themed shows hosted from Washington DC or from the Ground Zero site.

You are welcome to complement those experiences with merchandise ranging from 9-11 Memorial Wine to a Never Forget Coloring Book to an $89 “We Will Never Forget” Pendant Necklace.

I mean, how do we represent and acknowledge and make space for the incredible sadness of what was lost that day to so many Americans without feeling like we’re participating in the exploitation of it? How to say anything at all without encouraging an endless comment thread full of “where I was on 9/11” stories?

When I see that clip of the plane flying into the towers replayed again and again, I want to close my eyes. Every time reminds me of the first time and I wish the first time was the only time I ever had to see it. Now that image has been exploited for financial or political gain by so many fucking people. That image has been used to justify more killing and more death all around the world. That’s not the proper way to pay tribute to what we lost that day.

For your reference:

+ A MUST-READ –> 9-11: The Winners: “The September 11, 2001 attacks have been a symbol of many things and many causes, but like the lavish, flag-draped rebuilding of the site, it has also been a vehicle for enrichment. From corporations to politicians to government officials to nonprofits to the security industry to publishers to the health industry (not to mention the incidents of outright fraud over the years), many people have found ways to profit from one of the nation’s biggest disasters. 9/11 has created an economy all its own.”

+ The True Cost of 9-11 Trillions and trillions wasted on wars, a fiscal catastrophe, a wasted America: “Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit.”

+ The Legacy of 9/11 and The War on Intellectuals: How complex thinking about the situation was discredited and questioning The Bush Administration became “anti-American.” Anyone concerned with nuance just hated freedom, duh!

+ Thanks, 9/11! – Gawker looks at the lovely things America got out of 9/11, from The Housing Bubble to The Crawl to The Surveillance State.

I left New York City two weeks before the attacks, for school in Michigan, and I returned a month after the attacks for a weekend visit that got extended to a very very long weekend when a plane crash in Queens shut down the airport — you couldn’t be too careful, then. We stayed with friends who lived in the NYU dorms downtown, which was a quick walk to the devastation at Ground Zero. Around this time I started having this recurring nightmare where I’m on a boat and Al Qaeda attacks it.

But on 9/11 itself I was in Michigan with my best friends — one from Westchester, another from Philadelphia — at their sorority house, primarily composed of girls from New York or New Jersey. We stood on the balcony with ten or fifteen others, frantically dialing our friends and family in NYC, but all the phone lines were down there.

I worked dinner that night at The Macaroni Grill. When I walked in, Ahmed, a server, fake-ducked behind the bar and yelled “It wasn’t me! Don’t shoot!” and later, standing next to me in the expo line waiting for lasanga, told me that growing up in Lebanon, “this shit happened all the time.” He said, “you’ve got it so easy here.” It felt like a punch in the stomach but I didn’t know why. People kept calling to ask if we were open.

After work I went with a co-worker I was dating who I’ll call “Nate” back to his frat house, probably to watch him play video games with a few of his “brothers.” “Brad,” one of the brothers who was there that night, would go on to join the army and six years later Nate would track me down after years of silence to tell me that Brad had been shot and killed by a sniper in Fallujah. There was a memorial myspace page if I wanted to see it.

The number of U.S. causalities abroad from the “War on Terror” now far outnumber casualities of terrorism on American soil. What do we do with that?

To me, today is the ten-year anniversary of the last time this event was what it was and nothing else. When this event was devastating and purely so — before Bush led the crowd chanting USA USA, before the subsequent invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, before first responders were dying of cancer while the US turned a blind eye to its uninsured heroes, before The Bush Doctrine, before the EPA lied about the toxicity of the 9/11 site, before The Patriot Act, before the rash of hate crimes against people who “looked Muslim,” before the misallocated funds contributing to the bloated budgets of The September 11 Memorial and Museum and The Freedom Tower, before the phony charities, before Bush decided to launch and fund a $1.283 trillion dollar war with debt, before Abu Ghraib, before The Tea Party, before MISSION ACCOMPLISHED — the ten-year anniversary of the last time we could see this event clearly, through all the smoke and rubble that still remained, for the terror and tragedy that it was.

September 11th, 2001 (via The New York Times)

Read September 11th: The Reckoning at The New York Times

Read Gay Priest Was September 11’s First Recorded Casualty

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2676 articles for us.

74 Comments

  1. “I worry that my feelings about 9/11 are, at best, irrelevant, and, at worst, inappropriate.”

    I haven’t read this whole piece yet, but I just had to say that I think this takes courage to say, and I’d have to agree with it. I guess I know too much about politics or world affairs or whatever liberal ass excuse I can come up with, or maybe I’ve been too jaded after ten years of war and overwrought American jingoism, but my cynicism about the state of affairs today can sometimes make me heartless. Today I’m trying to remember that I can just see this as a great American tragedy and mourn those who were lost – both on 9/11 and in the aftermath – without getting tangled up in the details. That’s what I’m TRYING to do, anyway.

  2. 10 years ago today it was a Tuesday. I was sick so I didn’t go to school. My mom called and woke me up telling me to turn the TV on CNN, the tower fell. I though “The leaning tower of Pisa? But the Italians were fixing it!” I spent the rest of the day in front of the TV thinking that I was watching the beginning of World War 3.
    Today I woke up thinking about my favorite place. I have many favorite places but my favorite in the whole world is New York City. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Thinking of them because they were strangers in a land that is not theirs, just like me.
    I’ll always love you though New York

  3. “To me, today is the ten-year anniversary of the last time this event was what it was and nothing else.”

    ^^This…every word of this. I’ve felt bad that I just wanted this anninversary hoo-ha to be over with. It’s not that I want to forget, it’s just that I want to remember things on my own terms, what’s important to me, and not the myriad of pre-packaged specials that want to feed me what they think is significant.

    Thanks riese.

  4. This piece makes me…angry. I guess. I’m not sure angry is the right word.

    I’m with you entirely on how 9/11 has been misappropriated by the media to absurd levels. 9/11 wine? Seriously people? But I think taking the day to remember the day, the people killed, the way it changed our lives both individually and collectively…that’s right. We should do that. And 9/11 affected (and affects) each person very differently. So I think a safe space for each person to respond and cope in whatever way works for them is appropriate. I’m taking the day somberly, reading some of the better written pieces and ignoring the TV. If someone wants to watch the attacks over and over on YouTube, well, okay. You do you.

    • I kind of feel the same way. Not so much angry as just a tad bit offended..there are so many opinions out there about what 9/11 means, how it was misappropriated, etc. (and most of your article I actually agree with.) It’s just…today shouldn’t be the day to do it. There are many things wrong with our nation, but just as many great things about it. Over 3,000 human beings were lost that day, which I realize is far less than the civilians killed in the Iraqi war, but today should be a time to come together and remember their lives, the tragedy of how they died, and the heroism that the EMTs/fireman/others who lost their lives demonstrated.

      I resisted the urge to repost any of those “repost if you’re an American” things on facebook, or my tumblr, or even saying where I was. It just seems sort of trite to me. So maybe I’m not sure exactly how to handle the ten year anniversary of a national disaster, but I’m sorry Riese, this just doesn’t seem to be it.

      (And I’m not yelling. Just a politely “agree to disagree” kind of thing. Still love you!)

      • I don’t disagree with anything you say here so I’m not sure how it contradicts what I said in this piece? (I’m not mad tho) I also am not trying to give an example of the ‘proper’ way to honor 9/11, this piece doesn’t purport to be anything of that magnitude. I guess I’m trying to say that everyone will honor this day in their own way, and that way will be about their hearts, not about what anyone could write on the internet.

        But if you’re saying that what I should’ve done was tell stories about the heroes of 9-11 and nothing else, I’m sorry — I just can’t. Those aren’t my stories. Those stories belong to the friends and family of the people we lost that day and the heroes themselves. I don’t own the rights to those stories. For ten years I’ve seen writer after writer inappropriately appropriate these stories. The actual voices of 9/11’s victims’ loved ones have been drowned out by media cacophony and I can’t in good conscience be a part of that. Does that make sense?

        The New York Times page I link to at the end has some first-person stories I highly recommend!

        • Nevermind, its just the warring parts of a Democratic person who’s grown up in the South’s mind. This is why I hardly ever comment – sometimes I’m not that articulate in what I want to say. How about that agree with both you and my friends and family who keep posting those stupid “never forget” type things on Facebook – I just don’t agree with how its expressed? Maybe there is no “proper” way to remember/commemorate something that meant so many different things to so many different people.

          (To me, it was just the end of my childhood. The world never seemed to be such a safe hippy-dippy place again. But people that were much younger than me have to deal with that reality every day. So.)

          So in short, just ignore me. Stuck my foot in my mouth.

          • no need to put your foot in your mouth! i wasn’t arguing, just explaining? Obviously I’m really preoccupied and possibly obsessed with how precisely to approach this topic in a way that doesn’t oppose any of my fundamental beliefs so I’m just sensitive to comments about the tone — because I do agree with you, I just wanted to say that for me, the results of feeling that way are different than the results someone else might have from feeling that way. I’m sensitive, like Jewel.

  5. This is amazing. It would be repetitive to just go “I agree, I agree” with everything you said here. But your last paragraph sums it up nicely…at about 2 PM on 9-11-01, it stopped being a tragedy and just started being a cash cow…the number of store owners and kiosk holders selling and ordering American flags to sell in the streets of Miami were just the forerunners of everything you outlined here. Amazing, as always.

  6. so i live in new york now, i lived in new york then, i’m working, i’m listening to sirens outside the window. it’s a sad day, is all there is to say.
    oddly, listening to Windowsill by Arcade Fire has helped me through a lot of these feelings.

  7. Riese, this is the best piece I’ve read on 9/11. Utah and I were just discussing that the media (so far that we’ve seen) has not taken a moment for all of the lives lost in relation to this event, an event that was a reaction to years of war, and an event that has preceded even more war, without yet an end in sight and without any justifiable explanation left.

    These are just a few of the points we have mentioned to each other throughout this weekend, but you hit on several others. Thank you for writing the piece we were looking for.

    -Steph

  8. thank you so much for writing such a sensitive, nuanced piece. this was exactly what i needed to read. yesterday my dad (a staunch conservative) screamed at me, called me “insensitive,” “a leftist anti-American” simply because I dared to casually criticize Fox News’ 9/11 coverage, which he was watching. I was so frightened by the vitriol spewing from his mouth that spent the rest of the day locked up in my room, feeling a toxic mix of anger and fear.

    also, just want to add that there has been a lot of solemn, nuanced coverage of the 9/11 anniversary on NPR podcasts.

  9. I agree that so much of the tragedy has been appropriated and used as marketing, for politics, for consumerism, for “patriotism”. The endless facebook statuses somehow feel wrong, though I know some of the people on my feed reblogging memorial statuses surely have been personally affected. I guess I am uncomfortable with the way it seems everyone has to let everyone else know that they remember, that they are doing September 11 “right”. Grieving is of course necessary, but there is meaning in quiet moments with yourself, with your loved ones.

  10. Thank you. I was just about to put up a semi-angry Facebook status in response to all the flag-wavers when I saw this. This day is for those who lost their loved ones ten years ago, and NO ONE ELSE. We’ve done enough fucking around with the images of Septmeber 11th, we should just let it be, and remember the people who no longer here.

      • Wow, Riese… thanks so much for posting Ani DiFRanco’s piece. I’m sending it out to all my friends. It certainly encapsulates much of what I feel about 11 Sept. And she joins the dots with such clarity, it made me cry.

        But it isn’t making me cynical; rather I’m more determined than ever to open my heart and make connections. Because it is time to dismantle the post 9/11 fear mongering and paranoia that has been cranked up in the last decade by the corporate media. That is not the world I live in. In my world people care about each other – as friends,family neighbours, global community; they are not driven by greed and selfishness.

    • It’s ‘self-evident’ by Ani Difranco.

      In high school I convinced my english teacher to let me critique the spoken word part at the beginning for a poetry presentation in class. How I didn’t know I was gay until 5 years later I still don’t understand.

      As for the article, I’m going to join the chorus of thanks to Riese for writing this piece. It really does articulate a lot of my feelings re: 9/11. But I also do agree with those saying that everyone should continue to think of it in their own way.

      A few days ago I was watching mythbusters and when the episode ended, a 9/11 special began. At first, I was disgusted at the start of the media exploitation of the 10 year anniversary. But I ended up watching it and finding myself tearing up, remembering some of the emotions I felt that day. It’s ridiculous to even think about since I’m a Canadian and didn’t lose anyone, but my mother had recently moved to the USA and I remember the complete panic, not knowing if this was a relatively isolated attack or the beginnings of WW3. I ran to my brother’s school two blocks away as soon as I could and we called my mother collect from the principal’s office. I felt silly even at the time, but before it was all appropriated and exploited, 9/11 was a tragedy that affected all of us in some way large or small.

      That’s not to say that I still don’t find a lot of the hoopla rather sickening. But I also do appreciate that some people find it helpful.

      Also, that anecdote about your co-worker is something that always bothered me about the 9/11 coverage. Yes, it was a huge tragedy. But those types of attacks (albeit on a smaller scale) occur daily in many parts of the world.

      • That bothered me too, even as an 11 year old. The Sunday before, my CCD teacher had told us about kids in–I think–Israel who had to brave gunfire and explosives just to go to school and how lucky we were that we didn’t have to. When I realized what had happened, I remembered what she said and thought about how even this didn’t change the privilege that we knew. It seemed to make her words ring truer, somehow, that there were people for whom such tragedy was a daily reality. So the following Sunday, I went up to her to tell her that I had been thinking about what she had said and she, crying, inturrupted me with how she had been thinking about it too and how wrong she was, that it was no different here and we weren’t any luckier, etc. It made me soo mad that she could equate them so irreverently. That was the day that confirmed my suspicions that adults really weren’t any more likely to be right about things than I was, which probably led to my imminent atheism and liberalism. A yearish later I would be ranting to my therapist about how wrong and stupid the [potential] invasion of Iraq was.

  11. I completely identify with all of this.

    I am NYC-adjacent…at the northern areas of the jersey shore, we could see the giant cloud of smoke in the distance from bridges and other high places. but i don’t feel like this is MY event because of that. I didn’t know anyone who died or who was even in the building that day.

    I am absolutely mournful, but what I grieve is American integrity–for people who died just trying to do their jobs, some quite heroically, to be reduced to a means for financial and political gain is shameful, and does not represent the America I want to be a part of.

  12. WELL done, Riese.
    And on top of all of it…most people don’t even acknowledge who/what was really behind the event. Soooo…yanno. God Bless all of us to choose to live in light and awareness.

  13. Oh wow. I tried to stay past of American newspapers today because I didn’t feel like hearing them commemorate 911, bash muslims, patriotism etc etc etc but I decided to peek into this post and I’m gladly surprised.

    Go you Riese! Self-evident by Ani DiFranco and that initial quote. Your eyes are open. I’ve found new respect for you and Autostraddle. Thank you!

  14. Things that depress me: Thinking about 9/11. And then reading about the plot and hijackjers on Wikipedia, followed by YouTube videos of the crashes at different angles, along with a compilation of broadcast TV clips when the second tower was hit and everyone realized it was a deliberate attack, etc. Why do I do this to myself? It’s still hard to believe it actually happened. That someone thought of it. That someone was able to do it. That the world just moves on.

    I don’t even know what to say about it. I think Riese summed up all the thoughts that pop into my head pretty well. Just that we can’t live in fear. A free society is vulnerable to these sorts of things, but a free society is still better than one that isn’t. These people want to rob us of our freedom and we can’t let them. Sometimes I think of those people in the tower. I think of the people in the planes everytime I fly. They won’t be forgotten. But we need to carry on. Sigh. As much as America pisses me off sometimes, I still think we’re a pretty great country and I’m proud to be an American.

    I was in high school when it happened. I was late to school because I never gave a shit and when I came into my class, a TV was on and both the towers and the pentagon had been struck. We watched for a while, I went to my next class and continued to watch. The first tower collapsed on live TV with a field reporter standing in front of a camera with the towers behind him. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but that was a sinking feeling. I remember for the next couple weeks, no regular programming was on TV. As a bratty teenager, that annoyed me. Only as I got older did I realize the impact of 9/11.

  15. Thank you so much for writing this, Riese. I really appreciate a frank article that has not been sensationalized or is a product of the exploitation of 9/11. I agree so much with everything that has been said. The day was a tragic one, evenmore so for those that lived in nyc and experienced the day personally. However, for everyone else it has just been a means of selling products and feeling.. patriotic? and it definitely oppressed a people that had nothing to do with it because the terrorists happened to be Muslim. I wish we could’ve commemorated it the way it was meant to be, and not all the things that actually happened after.

  16. Thank you, Riese, for once again articulating my feelings better than i could. I worked on that 9/11 play that intern bren linked to a couple days ago, and while the play itself seemed to an honorable intention, i couldn’t help but think that our country used the loss of that landmark and those people as an excuse to kill so many hundreds of thousands more all over the world, and how is that ok? and the way people in this country were treated directly afterwards and continue to be treated.
    so while i respect each individual who wants to spend today doing what they will to remember or not, i appreciate this sentiment getting airtime as well.

  17. I really appreciated this piece.

    Also…to those of you who found the piece not exactly what you wanted to hear…I don’t think it was a piece about 9/11 exactly, so much as it was really a piece about media(media on media, very meta, and making space AWAY from mainstream media to feel what you’re feeling. So I think it was appropriate to the day, to give people room to feel what they actually feel, not what the media is promoting that they feel. Or something.
    Anyway, I liked the piece, Riese.

  18. Honestly, I dislike a lot of the 9/11 stuff for a different reason: as a New Yorker, who was in the city when it happened, who could smell the smoke, who saw the debris, whose father could see the towers fall out of his office window, it feels like my tragedy (and of course the other New Yorkers and people who were there and most importantly those who lost people). The group mourning and the speechmaking and the vigils just feel like other people are pretending to feel what I feel and pretending to have experienced what I experienced.

    And I know this is totally unfair. But I can’t help feeling like watching it on tv or hearing about it on the news or whatever is the real deal. I was also in the UK when the 7/7 bombings happened in London, so I know what it feels like to be an outsider, to hear about what happened in another city, to simply see it on tv.

    It’s just so hard for me to relate to other people’s experiences with 9/11 who weren’t in NYC.

    • this is actually what my argument was in the editorial meeting when I said i didn’t think i should write anything about 9/11. despite living in nyc before and afterwards, i wasn’t there at that time and i don’t personally know anyone who died that day, and i didn’t think it was appropriate for me to author anything about it and risk being one of those people leading a group mourning session. especially b/c living in nyc for six years I was ended up being close to a lot of people whose lives were deeply impacted that day, people who lost something or everything, and the outsized reactions of non-residents seemed even more grotesque in comparison — so i just don’t think it’s my place to speak on it. i was brought around to see how i could write about it from a different angle, but i just wanted to say that i think your opinion is totally fair.

  19. thanks for this. it seems like our knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 is automatically this thing called “patriotism.” the thing is, the fact that this was a tragedy should connect us more with other people & other nations–not less. i mean, exactly: shit like this happens all the time in the middle east. and japan. and england. it should have been the impetus for us devoting ourselves to eradicating violence, not for a whole new war.

  20. Thanks for saying something, riese. I appreciate your honesty and thank you for creating an open forum while handling this delicate topic more appropriately than most other media outlets seem to be doing.

    I wanted to wear my I <3 NY shirt today, just in solidarity with those who died. Then I heard my new roommates talking about how they think it's a conspiracy and I was hesitant to wear the shirt in case they'd start some conversation I wasn't sure I'd want to be a part of. But then my friend showed me this post his dad wrote 2 days after the attacks where he risked his life to save others. (http://azf.posterous.com/thursday-september-13-2001)

    I know there are so many stories much like this but it moved me to tears. Needless to say, I'm wearing my shirt with pride today. In remembrance of the innocent lives lost, both during the attack and in "retaliation", as well as all of their loved ones. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be there that day and won't try to pretend I feel the same things as anyone more closely connected. But I know that to honor them, we wouldn't impose the same devastating fate upon others, yet here we are. It's all very sad. Anyways, thanks for writing this honestly and sharing that you didn't necessarily want to- that also says a lot.

  21. I hope the author or anyone else isn’t misconstructing sadness for hype. Anyone who feel indifferent to 9/11 is probably pretty ignorant and couldn’t comprehend how it impacted America. The author and others had implied how sick they were that people are playing politics but yet don’t hesitate to bring up left leaning politics by bringing up who suffered more, Americans or the poor innocent iraqi civilians? Since when is death a sympathy competition?

    I also hope that this piece isn’t a jab at the American military.

    • Riese can probably explain her piece better than I can, but I didn’t see anything implying a sympathy competition and nor anything directly involving the American military so I don’t see where that suggestion is coming from.
      If I could fault anything, it’s that there seems an overwhelming emphasis towards the end on all the bad that came out of 9/11 and none on the good. What about the volunteerism that seems to have be encourage around this country in the aftermath of disasters like never before? What about the call to use this day to honor those who died by donating to blood drives? At my local college there was a forum (as I recall) on wheather it should only take a disaster to motivate people to volunteer. And what about all the added efferts to better educate citizens about people from different cultures and how what happens in other parts of world still effects those living in Americanl?
      I not trying to be all pollyanish and say it’s all been for the best, I just the tone of the last paragraph seemed a little too bleak. September 11th brought out the best in some people and that worst in others, which is just one more thing to keep in perspective that may risked being losed in all the hype.
      Other than that however, I thought this was fair, humble, and thoughfull. So thanks Riese, this is the first time I’ve writen.

  22. I wasn’t directly affected by it. I was in 6th grade, living in the suburbs of NYC. I currently live in downtown Manhattan. I’ve never been to Ground Zero. I don’t really feel the need to.

    A few years ago, 2 beautiful girls entered my life. I was a camp counselor, and they were my campers. Their father died in 9/11. The younger daughter had not been born yet. I can’t feel 9/11 like they must. I don’t know what they did today.

    I didn’t do anything today. Yes, I thought about it. But I think about a lot of things. There’s a difference between losing someone in a terrorist attack than from an illness or a car crash or a crime. I’m not saying one is worse than the other. It’s different. Some things are felt on a personal level, and some on a national level. I think each person reacts differently.

    I don’t know what I’m trying to say right now. I think that 9/11 sucked. I think a lot of things suck. Some more than others- but in different ways.

    I read a memoir by Paula Deen (yes, from the Food Network), who said that she was living in Georgia at the height of the Civil Rights movement, but she didn’t know/acknowledge what was going on because she had her own demons to deal with.

    We all have our demons. This is just one of them. They’re different for everyone. They are dealt with differently. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. There’s no “right way” to grieve, to heal, to pray, to love, to live. There are different ways. I don’t think any one way is better than another. I think that’s what we need to accept. That’s the beauty in the world.

  23. To quote a friend’s FB status

    “nineleven years ago today a bunch of ninelevens ninelevened us. Nineleven people felt nineleven while other ninelevens felt nineleven. Nineneverforgeteleven.”

    So many feelings I could write a novel, as some one who is from NY, as some one who lost some one during the attack, as some one who wasn’t there, as some one who knew people who were there, who lived.

    I really really need the media and politicians to never ever say nineleven again as a talking point. I need everyone to stop telling me to never forget. Fuck you all of you because how the fuck could I possibly forget when you won’t stop fucking reminding me? (That’s not directed at AS. I love you guys and this article.)

  24. Thank you for writing this, it sums up the way I feel about 9/11 almost entirely. The only part it leaves out is how incredibly angry it makes me that Americans act like this is the only time in the history of the world that something this terrible has happened. In fact in many other parts of the world, things this horrible happen with awful regularity. Not to mention all of the horrible things that have happened in recent history. There are so many people in the world who live in constant fear, with entire nations basically existing in a state of trauma. What happened on 9/11 was tragic, and it changed many people’s lives forever, but we still live in a state of freedom and relative well-being compared to many other people in the world.

  25. Very well said,and a well balanced and nuanced piece Riese.

    Although,I don’t know too many intelligent people who would actually disagree with your perspective.That’s not even mentioning another whole host of other things that you could have added.

    Bill Maher and Jon Stewart certainly wouldn’t disagree with this point of view.Neither do I.

  26. As a general rule, I avoid anything 9-11 related in the media for just the reasons you outlined here and it sends me into a rage. However, I didn’t even hesitate to click on this link and read the article because I knew you’d say something intelligent and sensitive and so, so much better than the other shit that’s getting flung around today. Thank you.

  27. I’m so glad for this post because I feel much the same way – it’s not really my tragedy. I didn’t lose anyone in the attacks. I feel like branding it as a national tragedy, while it definitely did change everything for people all over the country, kind of takes away how personal this was for so many people who actually lost friends and family.

    It also really bothers me how much red-staters particularly adopted 9/11 as their own, with “9/11” being “the issue” that drove Republicans to win elections for years after. So many of the same people who regularly dismiss New Yorkers as “out-of-touch coastal elites,” suddenly care about New York when a tragedy there is something they can use for political gain.

    • Which is not to say people in red states/conservatives were not affected personally by the attacks at all, just that I’ve noticed a lot of people who have no particular connection to what happened in New York, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania ten years ago acting like the tragedy somehow belongs more to them than it does to the people it actually hurt.

  28. Thank you for this, I have many feelings, feelings that I have trouble articulating. With my many feelings I managed to express my thoughts and feelings of 9/11/01:

    This tragedy is not the center of the universe of human emotions/experience but sometimes I feel like my own ethnocentricity and others who are (U.S.) American make it so.

    The world is getting smaller.

    I was 13 and in high school looking at the television in my English class we were studying the Odyssey. As we watched I remember a voice of a young (white) male yelling in the hallways, “SHERWOOD IS FOR WHITE PEOPLE!” My heart sank to the pit of my stomach. At the moment when I looked at my class mates, my eyes focused at my white classmates who I cynically predicted will associated 9/11 with brown people, brown Muslims.

    I was right, for the most part because an Indian-American who owned a gas station 50 miles form where I lived was shot in a naive retaliation on what happened that day. I felt sick at the same time there was a sense of relief because scapegoating of the “American boogeyman” was not on people who looked like me. EVERYONE looked with suspicion to those who where Muslim and brown, countries and histories of people I didn’t even give a second thought to where in the tip of my tongue, “Afghanistan, Middle East, Turkey, Ottoman Empire…”

    My world is getting bigger. My mind was expanding and 9/11 to me was not a time where I felt there was hope. 9/11 to me was a time of great suspicion a new “Red” hunt for those who did not wave, OMFG I LOVE AMERICA!!!!! Without any critical thought I joined in the madness, rage and vengeance in my heart to somehow ease the pain I felt at the senselessness of the the violence that was on 9/11. I made an American flag on my driveway of my suburban home bright with highly saturated reds, cobalt blue and white. When I was done for some reason I felt a sense of calm in expressing my “patriotism” because I never had the urge to do something like that again.

    I love this country, but at the same time I realized there was world beyond this and slowly it approaches my door, my thoughts, the histories of my internet search, and lately its pace has quickened.

    The world, my (new) world is getting smaller. I understand people will feel this differently than what I have done on this day. I drank wine, I celebrated my life (so far) because of the sense of mortality I feel. I hugged my parents/called family because I love them. I cursed a god(s) I don’t believe in because humans use its name to justify this hate. I smelled some grass that was freshly cut because I can.

    I watched V for Vendetta because I dig Natalie Portman with a shaved head, good lord I’m gay. I have many feelings about this day, love, hate, hope but I just want to live without fear.

  29. I don’t know how to phrase anything in a way that doesn’t sound limiting or insensitive or dishonest, but while the “packaging” of 9/11 was distasteful and ultimately dangerous to many people across this world who died because of it (5 civilians were killed in Iraq on 9/11/11), the ship has sailed, and people then and now share an incorrigible need to speak their feelings and thoughts on the matter. Mine are ambivalent because while on the one hand it’s better to get away from the kind of aggrieved feelings that express anger because a terrorist attack was visited on humans who were in the United States in particular, on the other I feel like it’s important to reflect on what the attack became: the Patriot Act, the Iraqi invasion, nearly a decade of loss of life in Afganistan before the gov’t accomplished its aim of killing Bin Ladin. Either feels like an extreme: our first feelings unleashed what happened in the world, and now that many people are over that, they’re “over” thinking about any of its consequences, at all. I obviously don’t mean you personally and I think it’s been pointed out that there’s no “correct” way to approach the day, but pretending the anniversary of the start of this dark world wasn’t there was too hard for me. I thought about it this weekend, a lot.

  30. Thanks so much for this article. No other site I’ve come across has allowed for any expression other than “WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT 9/11!!??”

    Here in England it is still reported on every year, victims families are dragged out for documentaries and firemen are asked to relive every second of it…and if we’re being honest….all I can think about is this one line:
    “Dear America, your 9/11 is our 24/7. Sincerely, Afghanistan.”

  31. regardless of anything else, I agree with you that the whole point is that we all need to process this, along with any other major event in our lives, in our own way. I feel that while I wasnt in NYC that day, it is still a huge part of my life. I can still have grief regarding it, and I do. As someone else said above, this is the day my childhood ended. This was the day that I started questioning. I was in 8th grade, and up until that point, my parents always knew what was right, the US Government was always looking out for my best interests, and I lived in the United States of America, even though we may fight in wars, we would never have war here… That day all that ended for my 13 year old mind.. While I think I am different than the majority of commenters here as I am a registered Republican with socially liberal views, I adamantly believe that almost every aspect of this situation after the fact was dealt with inappropriately – by the media, the government, and society in general.
    I feel the same way about this that I do about a death. I have lost 4 very close friends as well as my mother in the last 5 years to car accidents, drug overdoses, and cancer. Every single time it stung to see people posting things on facebook regarding “RIP” who I knew DAMN WELL had not spoken to that person in years, or never had a relationship with them at all, or had nothing but hurtful things to say w/r/t them in their life but is suddenly overcome by grief in their passing. It all boils down to people wanting to be a part of the crowd, a mob mentality.
    Thats why yesterday, I silently remembered. As I do most days. I shed a few tears for the innocence I lost 10 years ago, with the realization that the only person looking out for me is me. I stayed away from facebook so that I wouldnt say hurtful things in comments on the many many many status updates. I didnt watch the news because I remember watching it all day ten years ago, and seeing it the first time was enough to burn the image into my brain forever.

    I have a strong appreciation for your essay.. because as much as some of us are overwhelmed by the widespread coverage of this anniversary, I know that I will be judged for not posting anything in remembrance on FB, and this site would most definitely have been judged on way or another by it’s readership if you let it pass by seemingly unnoticed.

  32. Thank you for this. For ten years, I avoided anything 9/11-related (documentaries, movies, specials, investigations, whatever) because I was not interested in reliving that day. Friday night, my wife and I watched one 9/11 Dateline special, the first time I had really seen the footage and heard the stories in a decade. Watching it again, ten years later, was nearly as terrifying and horrifying as it originally was. Afterward, we decided to rent movies for the rest of the weekend because we knew the coverage would be infiltrating every channel all weekend. And it did. Yesterday at the gym, one of the news channels on the television was showing all of their live coverage from that day, which horrifyingly made it seem as though it was all happening again in real time.

    For people who lost friends and loved ones, it is a tragic day of memorial and real loss. For the rest of the country, it is the anniversary of the day we realized we weren’t above everyone else and weren’t too great to have this happen on our soil. It is very sad how it has turned out.

  33. I can’t believe you almost got away with not posting this. Thank you for writing this, it’s like you gather all the random emotions and thoughts that I experience and put them in these concise awesome articles. Please don’t shy away from writing about the big things, you are really good at what you do.

  34. From Al-Jazeera (an Arabic news network, NOT a terrorist network, which I know is blocked in the US *cof*cof* freedom of speech anyone?!).
    For who can access it, it’s here: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/20119129922211592.html

    “9/12 changed the world, not 9/11
    After 9/11 the Bush administration took the world to war, threatening global security and shredding US democracy.”
    “The attacks of 9/11 were a horrific crime, almost 3,000 people were killed in one attack – a crime against humanity. But it wasn’t the crime of September 11 that threatened our country’s survival, that destroyed our democracy, it wasn’t September 11 that expanded the devastating impact of those attacks far beyond those already directly affected.

    It was the events of September 12, when the Bush administration made the decision to take the world to war, that changed the world, and that continued to threaten the world’s security and shred US democracy.”

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