I miss 9/11. What we have now is nothing compared to that day, the first week, the first year. We had a
sense of community, a sense of connectivity, all through our shared grief and shock. For the first time since the Vietnam
war, we had a unifying event that brought people together: to express their opinions, to rale against the Fates, to tell stories.
And what stories we told; to our friends, our relatives, to strangers. No one was a stranger in those days, for we all shared
a common experience, the pain of loss.
For some the loss was achingly real. A loved one, a friend, a coworker, gone forever.
And so we comforted, we held hands, we talked, we let all into our hearts. We also wrote essays, and poems, and articles.
We created, through photographs, the design of our pain made real. Raw emotion, captured in a hundred different ways, by a
hundred different hearts, became the art of the moment. And we wanted more. We wanted to continue to feel the pain, continue
to trace the agony through that scar upon the earth we christened “Ground Zero”.
It became the greatest reality show ever produced. Through a year, we watched the smoking stench filled
pile become smaller and smaller. Until it was only a pit. We tuned in each night to learn of the plight of the 2000+ missing.
We were one in our hunger to know the latest details of what happened each day.
Then one day the Pit was empty. There was no more recovery, no more excavation with hope, nothing. The news
shows at night became silent. We drifted apart. Our flags became tattered, our images of the Twin Towers, now were only ghosts
on storefront logos and NYC souvenirs. Five years have passed and what do we have? A war in far away lands, a memorial fraught
with controversies, and an empty dust filled pit.
We can’t even locate the façade that had been such a prominent symbol of strength. Crashed to the
ground, it remained standing against all odds, a testament to what cannot be destroyed, our souls. We lost the cornerstone
to the Freedom Tower. Design revisions had it carted away to the stone company, engraved but forgotten, to be stumbled upon
by a lady looking for granite when having her kitchen countertops redone. And we can’t decide on what to do with a section
of the WTC plaza’s stairs that sits in the Pit, some want it removed, others, who used it as an escape route that day,
feel it represents the stairway to survival. We have come full circle from a nation united in grief, to a nation torn apart
by our petty concerns.
Five years...what does time mean to those whose loved ones vanished on that day? What does time mean to
those who survived but are wracked with health problems from the dust they inhaled? What does time mean in a world where we
try to make every second count through multitasking with our electronic devices but have no time to say “I love you”
before rushing out the door to catch our train? And what if that train were our last? What time would it be then?
And so we go on, limping along in this new “post 9/11” world. The names of the dead and missing
are being read today. The President made his annual trip to Ground Zero to lay a wreath. The sun shines bright again, as it
did 5 years ago. And once again, the wind rises and whips the dust about...as it did on that day. Say hello to year 6...will
(c) 2006 Leona M Seufert