Sep. 11th, 2010

jauncourt: (red)
I was awakened this morning at about 8:45 by the emergency notification PA system broadcasting Taps, followed by a pause (moment of silence, I have to assume), and a man's voice saying "So. Here we are."

This is a new development in the observation of a national day of mourning, as the PA system in question wasn't used for this last year, and did not exist before that.

Instead of making me think of the tragedy in question, this instead made me think of other, similar, tragedies and how they were affected by the available news coverage of their relative times/places. The Lusitania, Pearl Harbor (most similar ideology-wise), the Hindenburg (probably closest in character, news-coverage-wise), the Titanic, the 1906 earthquake, Loma Prieta, the Tsunami. All of which are horrible either in body count or sheer destruction, and all of which were watched as closely as possible by the news.

Hindenburg is most similar, coverage-wise, because it was covered almost-live on the radio. People who heard it broadcast felt as though they were there, with all the horror and helplessness that came with it. I have also thought on Pearl Harbor, and how we have long since stopped widely observing a day of mourning for that event. I have to wonder if it is not so much the freshness of the currently mourned tragedy as the fact that nearly everyone with a television in this hemisphere watched it as it happened, and many throughout the world did as well. And that every year, for week surrounding the official day of mourning, we collectively reopen the wound by rebroadcasting all the footage available, with more retrospective coverage tacked one for good measure.

I don't think it's that we won't let it become history, or I hope it's not that. I think it's awful to keep it SO fresh for so long. It disrupts the healing process. Human beings are capable of healing and going on, and we tell stories, but never before in our history has it been possible to completely relive a collective traumatic experience (however vicarious) of this magnitude. For most of us, what we need to heal is the acute sense that we witnessed a horror and did not a single thing to save all those people. The fact that we could not have, any of us, even if we had been right beside the EMS personnel who died trying to do exactly that, means nothing. The distance that seperated all of us from the event means nothing.

We still feel the guilt. We still feel the sorrow. We still feel the helplessness. We keep peeling the scab and it will never heal in a good way if we do that. The intolerance that is rampant currently, the fetishization of a mythical Other and a mythical Us, are the largest symptoms of this emotional scar we keep working at. Knowledge is good. This? This isn't. This is propaganda. It cheapens the memory, by preventing it from becoming one.

My point, I suppose, is that I don't think rebroadcasting the crashes and the collapse to those who already saw them too many times is good for any of us. A better memorial would be a reading of names, a showing of faces, a memorial service with representatives of all faiths and perhaps eulogies for those who died who chose not to practice a faith.

And maybe, just maybe, stop trying to make it a scar on all of our psyches. It's there, we will never forget. The honorable, sensitive thing to do is to stop hurting everyone annually for ratings.

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