15 years, I have been watching this anniversary tick by. For a chunk of that time, I have been on social media, and watched all of my friends and family post their "Never forget" memes and tributes.
For the last 5-6 years, I have been rolling my eyes at most of them. Do actual humans living in the United States really think anyone could forget a day of collective trauma? Just...forget it? Who they fuck do they think people are?
I say these things knowing full well that it opens me to insult, and gawd-only-knows that else, but...what are we doing with the memes? What are we doing with the #neverforget and the #wherewereyou hashtags?
Who are we talking to?
So many Americans are convinced that their fellow citizens don't care, or can't be bothered to remember a day that changed all our lives forever. That, my friends, is insanity. Our nation has been governed by that day. We elect people based on their ability to be "tough" on terrorists, and we think nothing of having to go through extensive security checks at transportation hubs, or other places where large numbers of people gather. Forget it? Seriously? It's part of who we are, now.
Here's my take, as one of those non-patriot Americans refusing to post a meme today. I'm one of the awful shitheads that did not "like" your updated profile shot with the 9/11 overlay showing how you, personally remember a thing that is, quite literally, impossible to forget.
Is there something, beyond meme-ing I mean, that you are doing today or any other day that will affect the lives of those who lost someone or were otherwise directly affected that day? Maybe you're part of a group that is raising funds/awareness for the badly needed 1st responder health care legislation? No? Helping victim's families with outreach? No? Orphan scholarships? Help for returning soldiers? Anything? Just meme-ing?
I would not go so far as to tell anyone to take their meme and shove it up their ass, but I will say that if that is all you've got going on, and that's all you've done or have ever done in the 15 fucking years that real families in this country have been suffering real consequences, then yes...go for it.
Now, for the rest of you...thank you for seeing a need and filling it. Thank you for being a "high profile" person, such as a Jon Stewart or a Denis Leary (just two examples of thousands), and using your microphones to make positive things happen, even when shitbirds with a flag in one hand and a "never forget" pin on their lapels couldn't get off their crosses long enough to provide actual help to real people who survived. It is often those same so-called "patriots" who use their power to BLOCK help to survivors and families in their push to stay in mourning forever, or use the powerful imagery and emotion associated with a terrorist attack to further their own agendas.
Thank you for being a "low profile" person and doing the same.
Thank you, if you were a "low profile" person who accidentally became a high profile person in the pursuit of actual help for actual people.
Thank you if you are a "high profile" person happily working low-pro in the trenches to make things happen for people who really need it.
9/11 is still happening in this country, every day. Why? We've gone 15 years and because of our strong "patriotic" desire to re-live the trauma, we prevent ourselves from ever healing.
We can't stay in mourning forever. We must heal. That is not to say we pretend nothing happened--quite the opposite, in fact. We need to acknowledge just how far-reaching it was, and I don't think we have, yet--certainly not on a national level. The people who died? Their families won't forget them, and neither will the nation--not for several generations, at least.
The people who continue to live after losing a loved one (or their own health) to the attack or the ensuing rescue/clean-up or war effort? They won't ever forget it either, but we as a nation forget them all the time.
Let's change that.
Do something. Today of all days.
If you need inspiration, just use your Google. You have a Google, right? Search "help for 9/11 families" or any similar thing, and be amazed at how many people still need our help--help that a meme can't muster.
Here are a few to get you started.
- This is a recent article from Money magazine, with information and links.
- This is the support/resources page for the Families of September 11 Organization
- This is the 911 Families Support Services page
Now,...put down the meme and walk away slowly.