Well it’s finally here. It’s been ten years. A decade to the minute. Every second that ticks passed this morning and day we re-feel what we were feeling on 9/11/01. I think it’s only fitting that this ten year anniversary should fall on a Sunday, don’t you? I have a VHS tape I started recording the moment after my mother-in-law called to tell my wife and I to turn on the news. “Which channel?” I asked her. She didn’t answer. Her silence obvious as soon as the TV fuzz cleared. I’ve never watched that tape I recorded. Probably never will. I’m just going to hang on to it.
This past August in Albuquerque, New Mexico I happily witnessed my young niece Kelly get married to a handsome (and very tall) young man, Nathan. I am so happy for them both. It was the joy of my summer to see them wed. Ten years ago, a week before 9/11, Kelly’s mother, Charlotte Nadine Cole, was brutally attacked and murdered in a restaurant parking lot. A week later when the morning of 9/11 rolled around my family and I were already numb with shock and terror.
I remember asking my mother on that 9/11, “Can you believe what’s happening in New York?” Her response was that she just couldn’t deal with that right now. She’d just lost a sister a week prior. Too much. Just too much. I also vividly recall during that week of national mourning and anger that followed 9/11, a very prominent news anchor saying his great fear was that 9/11 would become “banal.” His exact word. A catch-all-phrase of sorts for galvanizing patriotism.
Ten years later my fear is his fear. A tragedy is not an opportunity for marshaling momentum towards an agenda. It’s a tragedy. I don’t need advertisers attempting to outdo each other in respectful tributes. I don’t need CG robots blasting off CG footballs with a reminder about a special synchronized moment of silence for all 9/11 victims coming up at half time. I don’t need to have how I should be feeling spelled out for me in an amalgam of NYPD and NYFD helmets.
We’re not dull. We’re not blunt. In short advertisers and TV networks — we get it. We’re not forgetting. It really hurts. A lot. Blatant attempts to be the loudest non-forgetter is — well — banal.