The sky outside is achingly blue. When I stepped outside at 20 Prospect this morning, it was a cool 60 degrees. It will top 80 before the day is over, and once night comes on it will cool off by 20 degrees again. This is quintessential September in Minnesota. The first few leaves have begun to yellow, and gather along the sidewalks. The fruit trees are bent heavy with fruit, and the yellow jackets are buzzing through the neighborhood.
Ten years ago Sunday, we had weather exactly like this. A gorgeous early fall day without a single cloud in the sky. I think we can all remember where we were when we first heard the news, and saw the images. For me though, it will always be the weather that brings me back to that day. That such evil was perpetrated on such a lovely day, only made it seem more unreal.
I’ve been ignoring the articles, and the media remembrances in the run up to this anniversary. In fact, I have been avoiding them for 10 years now. But yesterday I came across a link to a clip of one of the 911 calls, and following it down a rabbit hole in the internet, I lost myself for an hour watching videos of that day. Video’s that I never saw at the time, in those pre Youtube days. Video’s taken by people on the scene, in the buildings, when it happened.
What is it about us that makes us want to relive these moments, and run our fingers over our collective scars? Is it fear that forgetting will diminish the loss and sacrifice? Is it the idea that remembering will prevent us from ever experiencing it again?
20 Prospect Jr. was 9 months old, and Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect only just turned 2. I can remember thinking “how am I going to protect them from a world like this?”. How many years would I be able to put off explaining things like war, and terrorism? How many years before they saw the video themselves? Ten years later, that day lives for them the way that the Kennedy Assignation, Civil Rights movement, and Vietnam live for me; someone else’s memories from a time before we were born.
It’s been a long 10 years. 10 years of wars in places we only knew from grade school history lessons. 10 years of looking over our shoulders whenever we are in an airport. Despite what we may think and feel the world is the same as it has always been, what has changed is our perception of it. Call it “innocence lost”, but I think it would be more appropriate to say it’s “naiveté lost”.
The 20th Century was the bloodiest of all centuries for mankind. Our little wars and troubles of the 21st still pale in comparison to the horrors of the 20th. I hope we take time to remember that too this weekend. Remembering our sorrows is part of healing, but thinking that they are unique is only another form of naiveté.