Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At a Loss for Words

It's September 11 again. September 11 will come around once every year for the rest of time, and I suppose as long as I'm blogging, I'll want to commemorate it. Last year, the 5th anniversary lent itself to eloquence, but when I look back on what I wrote that day, I'm most impressed by the clarity of my memory.

9YOD came home from school yesterday with the assignment to write three sentences about 9/11. Given that she was three in 2001, she needed to pick my brain for information. I started to tell her about my recollections of the day – and found details that were so clear just 365 days ago are now blurred and faded. This past year has been a long ride of loss and grief, and earth-shaking world events have paled in importance to getting through a day, and then two, and then a few more without bursting into tears at the slightest provocation.

The people who lost family and friends on 9/11 must have felt somewhat the same. Stunned by grief, exhausted by the sheer necessity of getting up every morning and doing the minimum that had to be done to keep those who remained from falling apart. Desperate to find some meaning in the horror of pain and death. Struggling to explain to uncomprehending children why the loved one wouldn’t be coming home again. And forced to do all those things under the microscope of the national media. Judged by those detached souls who provide social commentary, some of whom started out with sympathy but, when faced with diverse, unexpected, or “inappropriate” responses to loss, turned on the survivors.

Six years on, those survivors have been joined by even greater numbers (Americans, Iraqis, and others) whose spouses, parents, siblings, friends have been taken from them by the ravages of an ill-conceived and poorly managed war. And those who now care for loved ones whose minds and bodies will never recover from their injuries. Iraq’s infrastructure has been severely damaged, and the purported “rebuilding” is in the hands of private contractors whose primary, perhaps only, goal is taking the US government for every cent they can steal. Osama bin Laden is apparently still free to broadcast videos around the world and gloat over his crimes. The Taliban is alive and kicking in Afghanistan.

And our leaders are moving the goalposts yet again, telling us, 4½ years in, that they need just a little more time to “win” a war they assured us would take six weeks to six months. The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is just a mirage.

When I sat down to write this post, I thought I was at a loss for words. I’m not. I’m just at a loss. Period.