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Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering What We Cannot Forget

On my drive in to work today, I pondered: "Should I write a blog post about September 11? Is it necessary, knowing that a million other bloggers, the mainstream news media, and heaven knows who else will be doing the same thing?" Probably not necessary, and yet, as an American, when you see this date on your calendar, don't you still feel like you're struggling to make sense of it all? Don't you let your mind go back for a moment or two and relive whatever you were doing that morning, how you heard, how you reacted?

Even for those of us who seemed somewhat sheltered here in the Midwest, many miles from the actual attacks, there were surely lasting effects. Up until that day, I rarely ever watched, listened or read the news. When the events of that September morning unfolded, my only sources of news coverage were the Internet and the radio (I don't own a TV). The sounds being broadcast over the radio quickly became unbearable to me, but I was so grateful for all of the Internet news available that day and in the days that followed. I became a daily news reader and now I start every single morning with a read through the Chicago, national and world news. I imagine that most of my coworkers and our library patrons also experienced some kind of change that day, whether for good or bad. In discussing our nation's current economic crisis with family members last weekend, I even suggested that September 11 might have played a role. Was our rush to spend, spend, and spend some more a way of comforting ourselves after this painful experience, a kind of collective post-traumatic stress syndrome ? Did it give us a sense of security to purchase a home (that may have been more than we could afford), well-made luxury cars, and other fineries? Did we borrow money thoughtlessly because we'd lost hope in what tomorrow could bring?

Whether your memories of September 11 bring you anger, sadness, fear or even more positive emotions - a desire to see peace in a troubled world, a willingness to volunteer and reach out to help others - I think it's important to acknowledge your feelings and use them to inspire you for good. You might recall that in the days following 9/11, an awful lot of people said, "America will be different now. People are going to be more polite and helpful, less selfish. Communities will grow stronger." I'm not so sure it turned out that way, not yet, but I'm a big fan of hope and optimism and I don't think it's ever too late to reach for something better. Below you'll find a variety of links relating to September 11, to post-traumatic stress, to volunteering and other related topics.

Read/view films about the September 11, 2001 attacks and their aftermath (list includes non-fiction as well as fiction inspired by the event)

Read about volunteer opportunities at the Library and in our local community

Read about post-traumatic stress disorder

Read about happiness and optimism and how to find more of them in your life

1 comment:

  1. Great post Karen! In the wake of 9/11 I (and others I know) made a conscious choice to step off one path and on to another. Well into my thirties, I didn't really feel "grown-up" for lack of a better word. I knew I wanted to settle down, get married, have a family "someday". 9/11 hit and all a sudden it seemed the time to get on with it.

    It was so painfully clear in those hours and then days and weeks that followed that, at the "end", all that matters is loving and being loved. Another blogger - who was standing next to tower one when it fell - wrote today that in the moment she thougth she was going to die and contemplated what she was going to miss "I realized that the greatest joy in life is simply watching the lives of people you love unfold in their very own way". And I think many other people felt that in a very visceral way as well.

    Your link between September 11 and the need to spend is right on. Certainly in my previously-unmarried age group, many people felt compelled to create their own oasis of family love. People who had dated for years finally got married. Others who balked at settling down all of a sudden found partners. Lots of marriages, all of a sudden. And with that comes the houses, cars, and accoutrement we believe go along with being grown up. It's sad to now so many of the same people who plunged so ernestly and well-intentionedly into the pool of domesticity struggling to keep the stuff we thought we needed to build that nest.


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