I’ve been struggling with how to mark the tenth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks appropriately. And, I’ve also been struggling with what words to put here in this post.
It’s the morning of 11 September 2011 as I’m writing this and having read through the Sunday edition of The New York Times (as well as the local Arizona Republic) and watching very tiny bits of the cable news channels, it’s obvious that this is a big thing. And rightfully so: 9/11 is our generation’s most pivotal day. So much changed (for better and for worse) in the decade since then.
But what is the most appropriate way to reflect, to observe, and to remember the events of that day and those who died–not just on that day but in the wars waged since then in Afghanistan and Iraq?
The title of this post borrows from a Christian hymn (and also from a recent entry on the Episcopalian author Diana Butler Bass‘s blog). And it’s from that post that I have found the words to observe the day:
Silence makes room for remembering. I don’t want to hear patriotic songs, jingoistic speeches, or even well-considered rehearsals of “what happened on that day.” I want to see no pictures of burning towers or flags waving. I wish for empty public space, a communal practice of quiet, to reflect on not only what happened on 9/11 but in the long, sad decade since. For just a brief time, I long for, in the words of an ancient hymn, “all mortal flesh keep silence,” in the face of the fear and trembling that gripped us one September day ten years ago.