Friday, September 11, 2009

"Every year on this day ...

(Stays on top today - G)

We are all New Yorkers."

With all due respect, Mr. President, no, you're not.

You, and all the other folks who like to wrap themselves in the flag who weren't here. We are the ones who sat, waiting for news of their loved ones, who went to funerals month after month, who dealt with the problems of those who survived, who, every time the morning gives us a clear, blue sky without wind, call it a "9/11 day", you will never know what it means to be a New Yorker on the best day, let alone on the day of our greatest tragedy.

If you were all New Yorkers, you wouldn't have allowed the memory of our friends and neighbors to be used to exploit the nation, to lie us into wars, to use as a lever to pry away our civil rights, to use as a cudgel to silence righteous debate. To be a New Yorker is to be tough and strong when you have to be, to be kind and compassionate when it matters, and to not take crap from people who hold us up as something to be scorned (except when it's politically advantageous), like they do with San Francisco. Most folks in this country wouldn't qualify.

I'm tired of politicians and folks from somewhere else invoking 9/11 as some sort of excuse for doing anything we want, anywhere in the world. I'm tired of people from somewhere else coming here and acting like that hole in the ground is some sort of carnival sideshow ("Hey, ma, get a pic of me hanging on the fence!"), instead of showing any sort of respect for what happened there. I'm tired of being used.

I get what people mean by "all of us are New Yorkers on 9/11". I understand the sentiment and accept that it's said from the heart, but unless you lived it, and then had to watch how the memory of 3000 of our relatives, friends, and neighbors was perverted to achieve goals most civilized people would shun, you don't understand the disgust we feel at those who only see political and monetary gain in our loss.

We will grieve, as we do every year, in our own ways. Some will do it in public and most will do it privately and then we will go on, just as we did in the days directly after the tragedy. We remember every day for the scene remains, neater now and no longer smoldering, but still a 16-acre hole in the bedrock of Lower Manhattan, a gap in the skyline that can be seen from 10 miles away.

On this day, remember us, say a prayer if you will, but don't think you can know what the people of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and the relatives of people from 40 nations who had to witness the deaths of their loved ones on television, went through that beautiful September day. And please, whatever you do or don't, let this day remain as a marker for a tragedy, not as an excuse to get in touch with our baser instincts. I'd rather the sacrifice made 8 years ago change this nation for the good instead of as a reason to torture and oppress.

May they rest in peace.

No comments: