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9-11 Marks Our Living Generation Forever
My girlfriend remarked to me yesterday that now that we've commemorated the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center and its related incidents, including memorializing the towers with the twin beams of light and everything that goes with this 'healing' process, we have, now, a very dark blot on our personal calendars.
She and I are autumn people. We enjoy September as a month leading into a natural cycle we enjoy deeply, and have so all our lives. Now, however, halfway into this special month we now must deal with an historically momentous mourning process that she and other people have predicted will never leave us.
It will not be as great a blot on the memory for generations yet unborn, as Pearl Harbor no longer evinces the horror and sadness in us that it does for the dwindling World War II generation, of which my parents are among the youngest still living. However it will stick in the hearts and the craw of our generation for as long as we live. Our children will sit with us and listen to us explain it but will never see it as the spiritual pall that it is becoming for us.
My mother forever mourns her first fiance, killed by the Japanese on USS Indiannapolis, and for all of her school mates who died at Pearl Harbor and later. My father fought the Japanese and occupied their country. Today, they are among the last who hold all of these events and their connections deep inside them, and I'm watching them fade away as I approach the age of forty.
I have yet no children, but when I do, they will see me deal with 9-11 and everything that is connected to it. In their time our nation may yet build another black wall of names commemorating some sort of human sacrifice as Viet Nam veterans vehemently forced the government to do, as the people of New York City have done with soulful sincerity. I hope that at worst, this sort of thing will only stain each generation of living human beings once. More than that is simply too much.
What of the generations still living that have already built their black walls? (The monument at Pearl Harbor is not literally a black wall but does bear the names of those lost there.) How are they receiving all of this spiritual and emotional data? Is this their second or third wall? Those older generations are old and wise now, and accept these things in stride because they know there is no other way.
For us who are younger and are building our first black wall for our dead, we must learn this serenity in the face of catastrophic loss and numbing pain, but I am confident that we will do so without becoming callous. After all, we build these walls with love and sadness.
In any event, for all of us here now and for posterity, this dark anniversary will always be there, and I'm sure that as long as there's a New York City - and indeed I hope in these perilous times that there will always be a New York City - there will always be those two haunting beams of light.