The mood in Brooklyn was sedate even before the rain came. In coffee shops and restaurants I ease drop on conversations, but people are only chatting about everyday stuff: their lives, travel, and health. The door of my favorite bagel shop has one of the last remaining posters around, a faded picture of the twin towers with the words emblazoned at the bottom, “Never forget.”
In Manhattan, no less than three presidential hopefuls attend the ground zero ceremony. But this year they have little to say about the war on terrorism. Some don’t say anything at all. These days, the news is Iraq and the mess we got ourselves into over there. I think many of our politicians would prefer we do forget, not about the attack, but about the panic and selfish actions that followed. For months now, candidates on both sides have been scrubbing the blood off their hands. But while some may seize at the higher ground, for America there’s no way to clean the slate. The number dead from our retaliation dwarfs that of the World Trade Center collapse. As promised, we pushed back hard. And on a rainy day like today, it’s hard not to feel guilty about that.
Most of us are no longer angry, or even sure who we might be angry at. The easy answers have been muddled and the call to arms is over-tired. I know that will never forget, but I feel differently this year. What started as national tragedy has become a quiet, personal thing. I find myself remembering the events of the day as images, feeling again the emotions I felt that day but no long ascribing greater meaning to them. Now, finally, I am content to just be sad about those who are gone.
And to softly hope it will never happen again.