September 11, 2001. Like many, I have a clear memory of that fateful morning. I was living in Berkeley, up early with the news on. I watched the replays of what I first thought was a crash, and then came to realize was an attack. Horrified, I gathered family around, as if being together would make us safer in a newly dangerous world.
At Wesleyan at the time, and all around the country, there was shock. How could this happen? Then came years of mourning, commemoration and efforts to remember the thousands who died at their desks, in elevators, on stairs, some heading up heroically to save as many people as possible. The photographs of those stunned first responders still make me shudder. Such sadness. We do our best to remember them.
We also remember the series of wars that were unleashed by the attacks of 9/11. The lies that led to the Iraq war, the hopes that many had of defending freedom, the slowly unfolding debacle in Afghanistan…torture, errant drone strikes, deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians over the last 20 years. What would it mean to do our best to remember all those victims?
For me, this sad anniversary is an occasion for piety, and I take some consolation in communal remembrance. Going forward, I’d like to think that by discovering ways of joining with others to provide security without making war, we are doing our best to remember all the victims of 9/11 and its aftermath.