Annual September 11th Reflections from a New Yorker

The 9/11 memorial reflections start in the local media a few weeks beforehand.  Now, eleven years on, the talk is more muted then it was back when the pain was still fresh. Once the media begins to pick at our scars we take the cue and start to pick at them ourselves.  This year I am sure many of us are thinking about the news that 50 new cancers are now covered under the Zadroga plan.  I have always wondered what breathing the chemical dust of the wreckage and tiny particles of incinerated bodies would do to me, do to my neighbors.  Now we are a bit more clear about what is possible, I guess.  

I don't know why I feel compelled to write yet another 9/11 post.  I have this weird proprietary feeling about  the pain associated with this day. It is almost as if I want to shout, "you can feel pain and fear and disgust about crazy people committing violence but 9/11 belongs to NYC! This pain is ours and all the rest of you are voyeurs who can't possibly understand" -- which is utter bullshit, of course.  We all can look at murderous acts across the world and have legitimate feelings of horror and even shame. As humans we react to these things in a fairly universal manner, I think.

Still. Still. Still.  I am  New Yorker.  I saw the smoke.  I heard the sirens.  I worked at a hospital at the time and I saw medical professionals ready and waiting for injured patients who never came.  Here, we experienced 9/11 in a way that people in Ohio and California did not. We experienced 9/11 in ways that are probably pretty close to what people in Syria are are going through right now.  Political death is equally horrific from any vantage point.

When I was growing up my mom told me I lived in the safest place in the world.  When I became aware of tragedies happening in other places and worried about them my mother told me we were not likely to have earthquakes or hurricanes or tsunamis or war here. Of course she told me these things, it is what parents say to keep their children feeling secure. Sadly, she was wrong.  We have hurricanes on a fairly routine basis, there is a fault line running right near the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant just outside NYC, and of course an act of war was committed right here on a bright September morning eleven years ago.  

The fact is we are not safe here in New York.  Honestly, who is really safe anywhere?

And that, my friends, is the legacy of 9/11 for me.  I used to feel safe in my home town but these days I am not sure I feel entirely safe anywhere.

I am away from my main computer and don't have access to a lot of my own photos for this post. So, I went to flickr, intending to look for a September 11th image with creative commons licensing.  I am tired of the flag draped, morose imagery associated with this day and I searched on the term "sunny day" intending to use a pretty picture to lighten my mood a bit. The first thing I saw is a series of images by someone called asterix611 taken from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, all with the tag "Sunny Day." The image above is somehow quite appropriate, don't you think? Do check out this person's stream -- they have posted fun photos of NY Fashion week and the US Open taken this week here in NYC.

No comments: