"Never Forget"

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

They said to never forget Pearl Harbor.  We mostly forgot.
They said to never forget Gettysburg.  We mostly forgot.
They thought we’d never forget the Titanic.  Well, we got a hell of a movie from it, which helped this generation to remember, but we’d mostly forgot before that, and we’re mostly forgetting again now.
These events are in history, and won’t be scrubbed from the records any time soon, but as the distance grows and the people involved die off, we’ll forget the important bits – the emotional impact of what it was like to be witness to such blasphemy.  And 9/11 still rings true for many people, but there are kids graduating high school who don’t remember a world with Twin Towers in it, and the world will move on and eventually, it’ll become something like the Boston Massacre: “Oh, right.  That happened.  That sure caused some political changes, right?”
But I’m tired of remembering.  Because for me, 9/11 is still the problem.  When I remember 9/11, I’m not remembering the same thing that other people do.  Some people remember 9/11 as the day an innocent America was flying through the park, doing Superman-like good deeds for everyone in the way that America always does, and a bunch of evil men hurt her for no apparent reason.  Yet others recall a day when America, bloated and neglectful and murdering, got her comeuppance and finally got to see what it was like to live with the bombs she dished out.
None of that’s the truth.  It was, as most truths are, somewhere in the middle.
And I don’t know what all those past “never forgets” were in real life, because they’re condemned to history.  I know there were some pacifists who protested Pearl Harbor, but I don’t think it was nearly as polarizing as 9/11 was.  I think as time went by, America settled on a single narrative – we got hit, we got into the war, and that was a good thing because we wound up defeating people so Evil they might as well have worn the skulls of dead Jews and Gypsies on their caps.
But if there’s one thing I’ll never forget from 9/11, it’s how America was treated to a split narrative for the first time that I can remember in my personal history.  To this day, 9/11 was simultaneously a great sadness that brought America nobly together, or an act of terror that made the country so craven they were willing to invade anyone just to get the taste of fear out of their mouths.  In my liberal circles, 9/11 is when America went fucking nuts, but in many conservative circles I’m sure that 9/11 was the Good Event that woke us up to terrorism and let us start fighting the good fight that America was born to.
So what are we never forgetting?  I don’t like remembering this day.  What I’m remembering is an entirely different thing from everyone else, several different narratives that ran wild and are still running wild, and will probably never be settled.  Because 9/11 was the first major historical event to be viewed from the fractured lens of FOX News vs. Everyone Else, not the dry paper of tabloids but exciting video footage and people in nice suits debating on camera in purposely mismatched fights to tell not just a story, but a whole goddamned mini-series devoted to their point of view.
If we all remembered one thing, or close to, I’d be happy.  But America’s either a rampant bully or a superhero, Iraq was either a good move for democracy or a fiasco, and all 9/11 does is remind me that on many levels, we’re so schizophrenic that we can now accomplish next to nothing.
I won’t forget that.  But I didn’t need a day to remind me.  Not during election season, anyway.


  1. fauxfire76
    Sep 11, 2012

    This has been the ONLY thing I’ve seen posted in regards t o9/11 that didn’t make me want to dig the deepest hole I could and pull the ground up over my head until the day is over. Speaking as someone who was there and who dearly looks forward to the day when it finally feels like an ordinary day, I thank you.

  2. Skennedy
    Sep 11, 2012

    I find this very interesting, as it was only a few hours ago that I started writing a post on Facebook saying, “WHAT, exactly, are we never forgetting here?” It ultimately looked too incendiary, and I didn’t write it, but it’s definitely on my mind today.

  3. Marc
    Sep 12, 2012

    I still find astonishing how, according to Tom Clancy and the republicans, Reagan was like the best president ever because, at least in their narratives, he won the cold war.
    The fact that he was merely there when it ended and that in real life he did more to prolong it than everybody else on the planet completely escape them. In their mind the “Empire of evil” speech is like somebody finally standing up to a bully.

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