11 September 2001

I’ve actually written about 9/11 before, in brief and at length. I recalled last year what happened to me that day in 2001, when I admitted I felt less affected than many other people in the United States seem to have been. People say “Never forget” and I’m doing my part not to, even though I still think maybe we just… should forget… or move on, at least.

In writing this post, I was watching a video of the attacks (and yes, I watched all 26 minutes and 26 seconds of it) and wanted to make semi-tongue-in-cheek comments about the video quality, lack of a steady hand in filming, the sound(s) of the firetrucks and emergency vehicles, the huge fires and all that smoke, the dust clouds, and other less-than-sympathetic notes… but I kept checking myself because I know that the entirety of 9/11 is triggering for a lot of people. Not many people have fond memories of that day, to be sure. I have to remember that and be respectful.

From the director of Clear Blue Tuesday, Elizabeth Lucas (emphasis mine):

Everyone has a 9/11 story… It’s as if, with all our public mourning and warfare and political debate, we have yet to have a personal discussion about the impact on individuals of such a defining event. As a nation we chose our designated mourners, our culprits and our defenders and they have stolen away an event that belongs to all of us, no matter how close or far we were to the epicenter. Memories of what happened are indelibly etched in all our minds, but the aftereffect variations are as numerous as people. I’ve heard so many stories of life change… that tell of resilience, grief, community, guilt, anger, fear, love and determination. Some left New York and some decided to stay forever. More than a few people have told me their lives changed for the better since 9/11 by making them more aware, more grateful, more focused and more likely to jettison negative influences from their lives. 9/11 was a catalyst for personal change, both good and bad.

I lived in New York for two years and fell in love there, but I arrived years after September 11th had been branded into everyone’s minds and scarred the face of the city. I went there already knowing I would have to live with the baggage. I’d go back in a minute if I could. No matter what I do, I dread this time every year because I think about what happened all over again. I reassess my thoughts and always come up with the same conclusion: I am not as emotionally connected to the events of that Tuesday as I think I should be. Which is why I keep coming back, I think. To prove that I can sympathize, even when I really want to forget the whole thing ever happened.

My sister asked if I would be writing about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque“. My answer is: No, I won’t be, except to say that the Quran-burning minister from Florida is a complete idiot and that books should be read, not burned. Here is my contribution to International Read a Book Day, a short excerpt from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend the uncut version.)

I would like to attend the memorial service this morning in my town, but I’ll be working 8:15 to 2:45, so I’m going to try to go to the service at the Memorial Fountain in Sherman Oaks after I get off work. I say I wasn’t affected, and for all intents and purposes, I wasn’t. But I keep writing about it, and I keep thinking about it. Why did it happen? What does it mean? Why am I still thinking about it after all this time? Will I ever forget?

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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