Once again the calendar returns us to that tragic day. Once again the sun shines brightly on an end of summer
morning. 9/11 has returned and with it all our memories and all our sorrows of a day like none other in the history of this
nation. Ground Zero has been cleared of all debris. Nothing but bedrock and dust remain.
Between moments of silence, a multitude of sorrowful hearts descended into the Pit to lay flowers, collect
some of the dust, and contemplate the 2 symbolic water filled squares. Young voices read the names of the dead and missing
while the living held on to each other and cried. Politicians read poetry as ordinary citizens sought out the holes in the
fences around the site, the closest they were allowed to be near this hallowed ground.
By noon the names, having all been read, Ground Zero returned itself to the tourists. No President arrived
to hug the grieving in the Pit, no further coverage on TV, no special ceremonies were planned. Towns who had lost their citizens
held their own private services. The day returned to the "new normal." At 7:15 the Towers of Light once again were beamed
into the sky. If you weren't at certain vantage points, that too, went unnoticed.
Are we slowly slipping further away from this tragedy? Is 9/11 (or what has now been christened "Patriots
Day") going to become like another Presidents Day: Marked on our calendars, trivially remembered, the original meaning lost?
If the first anniversary had too much media rehashing of images and stories about the World Trade Center and 9/11, then this
anniversary had too little. Only a few television specials that week, this morning's memorial ceremony left much to be desired,
and nothing of note the rest of the day. Are we letting the people who were not directly affected forget too soon?
Why couldn't us common Joes and Janes be allowed to enter Ground Zero's Pit in the afternoon? Why couldn't
there have been a huge memorial concert in Central Park and Yankee Stadium? Why couldn't all the major TV networks have shown
at least 1 hour of tasteful memorial programming in prime time? We do more on Thanksgiving day!
Yes, life must go on. We must attend to our responsibilities, show up at our jobs, hold our meetings, make
sure the economy doesn't falter. But we do not have the luxury of forgetting. Because on 9/11/2001 we all lost something,
be it a person, a place or our national innocence. We must beware, that which is suppressed in individuals or our collective
memory has a way of rising sometime in the future like the monster under the bed.
What we need is to create each year is a "Yahrzeit". A " 'Yeartime' in Yiddish...( meaning) a ritual time
of year... to return to the origin of mourning, to recall the first day of the beloved's loss and reenter a period of sorrow."
Lisa Schamess goes on to say in her article "Widow's Walk: A Year's Journey Through Grief" posted to Beliefnet.com www.beliefnet.com/story/98/story_9895.html "Yarhzeit creates a frame for what will happen anyway: the slant of light, the change in weather, the simple trigger of a
birthday or other nearby anniversary throws us back in time anyway. Yahrzeit is the permission to stay and feel the hurt of
love's death, but also a time to act on the gift that love was in the first place, to restore our joy in life if we can, to
celebrate and commemorate, to give, to light a candle's flame."
We have 364 days to live our "normal" lives. For one day each year, just as Daniel Libeskind's proposed
"wedge of light" would shine onto the site, we should focus on the meaning of 9/11 - what it means to each of us personally
and to the Nation as a whole.
c2003 Leona M Seufert