This year, for the first time, I feel nothing drawing me to go to the World Trade Center on the anniversary of the attacks. Perhaps that’s because, after last year’s anniversary, I went to the finally opened 9/11 memorial, and that was enough for a hundred anniversaries. I feel no need to return to it because it is so big, too big.
Yes, we must remember. That is why I had insisted on returning in years past: so I could remember and give thanks for surviving that day. But the memorial does more than just remember. It closes up the open wound on the city but leaves the scar there. It refuses to let life return to the place where death occurred. Worse, it creates a new fortress of fear with security and scanners around it. Worse yet, one exits that fortress and returns to life through the gift shop.
Since when did we insist that the place where someone died is sacred? We see that idea reflected in the makeshift memorials on highways’ sides or on stoops where someone is gunned down. I understand that reflex. But eventually, the flowers and pictures and candles are swept away and life returns. Memorials are elsewhere: on gravestones and statues and in museums. We build those things for memories.
As far as I am concerned, personally, the flowers and pictures and candles are gone from the World Trade Center. Life is returning. Memories live elsewhere.