Silence: Part II
I wrote this piece three years ago, and am once-again feeling the breathless silence in the re-reading.
But I am glad that there has been silence today: not the eerie once-in-a-lifetime silence of that day, but a more mundane and, thankfully, more benevolent silence. It is the silence of not having my patriotism, and the patriotism of others, questioned, because we are not making grand Facebook proclamations regarding 9/11.
I’ve seen it before (not directed at me) on other anniversaries, and it has always bothered me. “Why don’t you post something about 9/11? Why don’t you change your profile picture to a flag or the Twin Towers or an American Eagle?” And I’ve seen more than my share of “Never Forget” sentiments out there in the electronic ether.
Like any of us could fucking ever “forget.”
Seriously? I live 9/11 every day of my goddamn life. How could I possibly forget?
I lived in Boston at the time, so the final flights took to the sky mere miles from me. Now that I am back home in Maine, I drive by the Portland International Jetport nearly every day, and I see the grainy security footage of Mohamad Atta boarding the Portland to Boston flight from MY airport in my head. I drive by the Comfort Inn, where he stayed and where it all started almost every morning. You think I’m going to “forget” when I see the real Ground Zero every morning?
I live with the physical start of 9/11 every day of my life, and I count the human toll daily. Not one day of my life goes by where I don’t see the bodies – not yet dead, but merely seconds away from death – plunging from the towers in desperation. Not a single day of my life goes by where I don’t see those bodies flying by – 1,000′, 10 seconds, 150 mph – and I don’t think to myself, “that was a husband/wife, mother/daughter, sister/brother.” How am I possibly going to “forget” when I see it daily?
I choose not to change my profile picture to an American flag, and I choose not to post maudlin links from that day. NOT because I’ve forgotten, but because it’s all too entirely real, and I choose to remember that the American Spirit was not killed on that horrific day.
I choose to not post about it because I don’t care to give in to the simple black-and-white jingoism that defined the aftermath. I don’t have the strength to point a finger and yell “bullshit” to every mouth-breathing crayon-pushing bloviater who suggests that every terrorist is a Muslim (like Timothy McVeigh, Richard Reed, Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, Jared Lee Loughner and James Holmes, right?).
I choose to not post about it because I choose to continue living life to the fullest. Because every day we have granted to us is a gift and one never knows when it will all end.
I do NOT choose to not post because I have no patriotism, nor because I have “forgotten” that day.
I think every day we have is worth a lot more than a Facebook status or a bumper sticker. And I choose to live every day like it’s my last. Because it may be.
Don’t ever forget that.
Tags: 9/11, brian westbye, essay, expats, expressions, patriotism