During Sunday’s somber coverage of the 9/11 memorial service at ground zero, Anderson Cooper noted that the “images still shock, the heartbreak still hurts.” This could not be a more blatant understatement in the service of dramatic effect. Of course they still hurt, and of course they still shock, Anderson. It's not as if we've forgotten. And, in fact, the suggestion that we may have only serves as a sort of insult to our national and personal integrity.
As an American who was an eye-witness to the attack, to the 22.2 million inhabitants of the NYC metro area, and to the rest of the nation who watched with horror and fear on the internet and television as the unspeakable and far-off threat became a blatant nightmare reality, this phrase cannot help but take on a hollow ring. It has only been 10 years since the singular terrorist attack of that magnitude on American soil in our country's long history. Honestly, who does the media think is forgetting?
This blogger for one will never forget how it felt to be awoken by call from a friend in Brooklyn who saw both planes hit, dashing dazed from her apartment on the Jersey side of Lincoln Harbor to see both towers spitting flames. She'll never forget rushing down to the ferry dock and standing numb with a small gaggle of onlookers in collective disbelief; or when she heard on the portable radio one of them carried as a beacon of information that we all clung to in that time and space, so suspended and surreal, that The Pentagon had been targeted as well. And, you can be damn sure, Anderson Cooper, that nothing will ever erase the image in my brain of that first tower as it fell in impossible and interminable slow motion, as the window glass fluttered, lazily glittering in agonizing descent long after the building rubble collapsed into the cloud of dust that consumed it from below as from the depths of hell; not to mention the weeks focused on an attempted return to normalcy replete with the ever-present foreboding fear that the events of that morning were the harbinger of a full-scale assault that would rear its head in myriad other unsuspected forms. It turned the world upside-down, made terror real, literally haunted my dreams, and all but gave birth to the notion that we as Americans are not immune to acts of war on our own soil.
In this media-blitz-perpetual-information/communication-age, while it is by no means an implausible assertion that our global collective attention span, and by extension, memory is at an all time low, I can't help wondering if I'm alone in feeling that this “Never forget.” campaign was insultingly overblown, cartoonish, mishandled and TOO SOON. And, as if the news and social media outlets' saturation campaigns weren't sufficient in creating this feeling, being visually assaulted by blatant marketing tie-ins while watching football yesterday drove the nails in deep. Every ad spot from Budweiser to Ford reminding me not to forget about 9/11 as I watched Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez try to outdumb each other, I couldn't escape the feeling that I was creating a new memory in my 9/11 experience: I'll never forget that the 10th anniversary of the most stirring and frightening event in recent US history provided a universally-capitalized-upon marketing opportunity for beer and trucks.
On that note, I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to DirectTV for making fast forwarding through advertisements possible. God bless this military/industrial/entertainment complex.