9/11, we meet again. Because of you, my dad lost his best friends and was messed up in the head for a long time. Because of you, my parents split up, my dad quit his job, and moved to Washington DC. Because of you, my brother went through 3 years of counseling. But because of you, I had something to write about for my undergraduate thesis. And because of this, I was able to present my thesis at an international public health conference. Because of you, I have a job. Because of you, thousands of people are sick and suffering, I know this because I talk to them everyday at work. You ruined so many lives and broke up so many families. Most of time I wish you never happened. But then what would my life be like? What in the world would I be doing? I cannot get away from you, so I have learned to make you part of my everyday life. Sometimes, I regret this.
Sometimes, especially today, I want to quit this job and work on something else. I need space from this. I get unreasonably annoyed with people and politicians when they say their “never forget!” speeches. What are we, idiots? How on earth can someone forget what happened? Are they serious? Some wish they could forget.
So before The Bookmill, I kept a Livejournal. I think I wrote an entry on every 9/11 anniversary. I didn’t want to break that tradition today. I really liked what I wrote last year. So I want to post most of it here:
Here we are on the morning of 9/11. I sit by my window on the 26th floor, which I always leave cracked open for some fresh air, and listen to the downtown churches toll their bells to mark 4 moments of silence. For the first time in 6 years today I am not at any kind of memorial service, which feels good. My dad also is not attending a memorial service for the first time in 6 years. When I asked him if he was coming home to NYC for today, he smiled and said “hell no, I’m going no where near there.” I hope he is enjoying a somewhat normal day at work in Washington DC. Last night I ended up in Battery Park next to the WTC site. I sat with Manny and we watched work crews setting up for the memorial service, wiring up generators, lights, and cameras. Rats scurried around in the bushes next to us and ran across the sidewalks. The Tribute in Light beams were lit for about 20 minutes, I guess as a practice run for tonight. The two beams lit up clouds in the overcast sky. I’m glad I got to see them last night and have a moment to myself. I have to say that these light beams are my favorite 9/11 memorial/tribute ever, their effect is so simple, poignant, understated and beautiful, which are not words I would use to describe other 9/11 memorial events, which have become political forums for congress members, presidential hopefuls (begins with R and ends with –udy), and city council members to make empty promises and superficial attempts at empathy.
Speaking of politics, yesterday the city launched the “one-stop shopping” website for all information on 9/11 health programs and information: www.nyc.gov/9-11healthinfo .
The website has a lot of information, which is good, but somehow I cannot help but feel unimpressed, like this website is one big sugarcoating. The programs that city likes to call its 9/11 treatment “centers of excellence” were not started by city government, but started by community organizations and doctors who worked long hours of unpaid overtime. People saw a need for services and did what they could to address it with little help from government funding. Once the programs were established and organized, the government gave them some money and took all the credit. Maybe some can see this as “partnerships” but I do not. In the least, this 9/11 health info website could have a page of links to community partners and organizations that set up their centers of excellence.
And why did it take so long for this website? Better late than never, but still – 6 years? The centers of excellence were started right after 9/11 and it took the city 6 years just to admit people where suffering because of 9/11. Then again, when has the governmental ever really stood up to fully address the pressing needs of people who are suffering? I think people have learned that they need to take matters into their own hands. So on this anniversary; let’s recognize those who did just that.