On the actual Sept 11, I lived in CA. The whole day was quite surreal. I wasn't sure what I was watching on TV, it all seemed so nonsensical. A plane? Hijacked? Into a building? Wha?
I think it hit me the hardest a few years later when I went to NYC to sight-see. We went up in the Empire State Building, and everyone told me the World Trade Centers were twice as high. I already felt quite dizzy from the heights - what could possibly make someone want to build towers that tall? So tall, they are in the clouds? I have occasionally gotten snippets of the horror. A friend whose Dad was on the last train out of the WTC that morning. A friend at Columbia who had to walk back home to Brooklyn because all public transit was shut down. Another friend who couldn't contact her Dad. Others stranded in parts of NY. I literally cannot imagine what people went through, have gone through, are going through.
I read an article not too long ago that suggested we might all have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder from seeing the towers fall. From watching the planes hit. From seeing the people jump. I believe it. Honestly, sometimes, I hate 9/11. I hate the "Never forget". I hate those "See something, say something" signs. I hate the inane "We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way!". I hate taking off my shoes at the airport. I hate the overly audacious patriotism. It feels odd. I can't exactly explain it.
I flew about a month or so after 9/11. I can't remember where I was going, but I do remember seeing a flight attendant wearing an American flag tie. I liked that. I also remember seeing signs saying, "Thanks for flying!". It felt heartwarming. I've always loved travel. I've always loved to fly. Now, it's a relief if I don't have to fly somewhere, even if that means driving an extra few hours.
I think the thing that rubs me the wrong way about 9/11 is the prominence. Maybe those older than I can attest to this, but it seems like overkill, going on 11 years later (I have no idea - was Pearl Harbor the same way? But those were military killed - is it different when it's civilians?). As for 9/11, I know those people died. I know a lot of them were first responders, doing their jobs, rushing into the tower. I know that others were just poor workers, headed to work. I know that some were travelers. I guess my biggest problem is what about everyone else? What about those soldiers killed in Afghanistan? Those civilians battling for their lives in Syria? Those government protesters in China? Those starving people in Africa? What about those people who die on the freeway, headed to work on Monday morning? I realize this is a little facetious, but when is a death "patriotic" and when is it just "run of the mill". When does it call for the recitation of names on that day for 11 years? When are others who have been lost remembered?
I read an article once on terrorism in Israel. It stated that terrorists like to strike common areas because they want you to be afraid. They want you to change your life, never leave the house, give in to the fear. They want to control your life. A cafe was bombed and a number of people were killed. The next day, Israelis were lined up outside the cafe, waiting to buy a coffee from the bombed out shell of a building. Sometimes, I wish our collective reaction as Americans was to face the fear head-on. To rebuild those towers, to fill them up with businesses, to get on planes without enormous hassle. To trust each other again.