Today, my random thoughts are just a bit on the serious side. Sorry, it's that kind of day.
I was flipping the channels the other day, when I happened upon a documentary called The Falling Man. It recounted someone's quest to find a name for one of the people who jumped from the Towers that day. A man had been photographed after he had jumped, as he was falling to his death, and there was a quest to find out who he was. I had to change the channel; it was emotionally too much for me. To be in that position, between two ways of dying, with no way out? Heartbreaking. Those pictures, of people falling from the Towers that day, evoke the most profound sense of the horror that was 9/11. Yes, it is 9/11. Yes, I remember exactly where I was. I also remember
that I was vicariously traumatized by watching nonstop coverage for days
after it happened. I didn't even know that could happen. If that's
not a good reason to turn off the television, I don't know one.
There's been an issue with people who are visiting Ground Zero. Tourists, being visitors, tend to be more raucous and disrespectful about sacred sites than those who live in NYC. There's a circus-like feel to Ground Zero, I hear. People are not exhibiting the proper behavior that should accompany the site where so many people died. The visitors to Ground Zero mean well, at least, most of them do. The Alamo has a solution! Outside the door of the church(yes, the Alamo was a mission and the iconic building was the church), is a sign which tells visitors the expectations for behavior. One suggestion is that men remove their hats, for instance. At Arlington National Cemetery, the guides spend a few minutes talking about behavioral expectations and how visitors can show the proper respect. I imagine that most memorials, such as Little Big Horn, have listed expectations of appropriate behavior. Why not Ground Zero? There are quite a few people out there who have never been
taught the proper behavior for graveside or funerals. Everyone assumes
that people know, when they have never even been to a funeral. If you want someone to behave a certain way, you have to tell them in plain language instead of assuming that everyone knows what to do. I see no reason that there can't be similar instructions around Ground Zero. It may take a little time, but we tourists are trainable.
One of the more positive memories that I have of 9/11 is about Donald Rumsfeld. Now, I was never a fan of Mr. Rumsfeld. (I also thought that he was the wrong person for the job he had. He would have been a better Secretary of Commerce, or better yet, Education.) Yet, when the Pentagon was burning, and people were terrified and injured and confused, Rumsfeld was there. Rumsfeld was there, on camera, where everyone could see him. The body language that Rumsfeld exhibited on that day said "I am here, and I am in charge." That is exactly what people needed to see. The "Brains" of our Defense had just been attacked, and the world was watching. Terrorists were watching, to reap the benefits of the terror and pain they had sown. They did not see Rumsfeld confused or afraid. They saw someone who was going to take care of business, even if that wasn't the least bit true. I loved that old guy on 9/11, just for making me feel as though someone in our government was taking care of the people and not hiding in an 'undisclosed location'.
One of the soldiers who died in the Pentagon was the sister of someone my husband was close to in high school. There's now a school here, Wagner High School, that was named after her. I like that the people in this area recognized and honored her service to her country in this way. I think that all schools should bear the names of heroes. Give the kids who go to school there someone to emulate. Give them the right footsteps to follow. We need more focus on real heroes, I think.
Someone has said that it is the responsibility of the living to make meaningful the sacrifices of the dead. I think that the message of 9/11 is that you should hug your loved ones every day, and never let a day go by without letting them know how you feel. It's also about banding together, united by what we have in common, instead of yelling and screaming about our differences.
I am linking up with Stacy over at Stacy's Uncorked. She is plenty awesome, and you should check her out!