September 11th and the persistence of memory

Dali, The Persistence of Memory

Somehow there’s been a shift in the public’s attitude toward 911. After marathon memorials last year, the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, including never-ending streams of documentaries and rehashing of old news footage we’ve all seen too many times, after all of that it seems 911 has receded into our memories. This year there is near radio silence on the anniversary that comes tomorrow. Most media are greeting the anniversary as just another day. I’m sure there will be the usual ceremonies and name readings at the site, but it doesn’t feel like past anniversaries; not at all.

Memory and the passage of time are strange things. The memories sag, they even change. This is nothing new and I don’t mean to offer a course on pop psychology 101, but it is fascinating to witness this sudden altering of consciousness. Maybe it’s a sign that America is growing up and moving on. Not that we shouldn’t remember the dead and the horror of that day, not that we shouldn’t memorialize them, but we shouldn’t wallow in them either. There really does come a time to move on and put things in perspective. This applies to all tragedies, of course. But this year marks a landmark for the US: it is the year 911 breast-beating finally settled down and Americans have decided there is no reason to keep it top of mind all the time. We will never forget the images of that day and all its repercussions, but we are finally seeing it for what it is, a calamity from which America needs to recover and get on with life.