Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Year of Moving On

The trope for this year's 9-11 anniversary stories is "getting over it, moving on."

Houston plans to host "events large and small, including seminars and prayer sessions, a candlelight vigil and at least one fire-department barbecue," according to the "Houston Chronicle."

The largest public event in the area is planned for Saturday morning at Texas A&M University, where a twisted, charred steel beam from Manhattan's ground zero will be the centerpiece for an observance at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

But even as candles are lit and prayers intoned, experts note that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks seemingly are beginning their inexorable retreat into history.

"It's a natural part of the grieving process," said Roberta Diddel, a Rice University psychology lecturer. "We are adaptive beings, and part of our nature is to regroup and go on. ... It doesn't make it less horrible, and it doesn't mean the loss doesn't continue, but people are ready to put their energies into life."

In some cases, organizations that previously sponsored 9/11 observances, including the 3,500-member Houston Fire Department, this year will not do so.

"It's not a lack of caring," said Martha Haun, director of University of Houston's Crisis Resource Center. "It's that, for many people, there's a lack of time and resources. There are so many things for us to care about — Vietnam, the war in Iraq, the Persian Gulf War, airliners that have crashed. ... We can't commemorate all of those things on a regular basis or we'll spend all of our time having ceremonies."

Even on the Internet, Michele, at A Small Victory, who has posted emotionally wringing accounts the past two years, is foreswearing 9-11 anniversary posts this year.

I think, above all, reacting to this anniversary with reverence rather than rhetoric, with hope rather than hate, with dared optimism rather than depression, is the best we can do for those who died.

This is the first and last thing I will write about the third anniversary of 9/11. I will attend a sunrise memorial on the beach this Saturday and I will whisper thanks to the heros and feel sorrow for all who died. And as the sun rises, I will greet the new day as another one in which to appreciate that I still can have absolute moments of happiness while still holding onto my piece of 9/11.

Meanwhile, around here "peace activists" are loudly beating the drum over the 1,000 U.S. dead benchmark in Iraq, and I think they hope they'll drown out 9-11, an extremely uncomfortable anniversary for them, altogether. The date confronts them with a truth they'd rather forget, rather see everyone else forget.