Why do we feel it more with them?
by Andrea Elizabeth
I did not intend to spend almost the entire weekend watching 9/11 documentaries on the various major channels. Btw, KERA, which I mentioned in a previous post, is our local PBS station. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is why the fascination when there are so many other horrible things that go on in the world?
1) It is different when it is on your own country’s soil. Also, NYC is a symbolic city that represents Ellis Island and the development of our country. It is where you go to make it. It has been visited, at least vicariously, by about everyone in the world. You could say that about other countries’s major cities too, but I will transgress into American Exceptionalism a bit and say that because of what Ellis Island represents to the rest of the world, Bring us your tired, hungry, etc, that NYC is different. I don’t particularly like big cities, but I can appreciate the good things about them. Even with a person’s identification with their own state within our country. we also have a national identity, including those who have come to question it’s reputation.
One of the (paraphrased) quotes from this weekend sticks in my mind, ‘Americans can feel isolated and superior to the rest of the world. 9/11 humbled us and made us consider how other parts of the world think.’
2) It was televised. The first plane trained the cameras on the twin towers so that everyone saw the second plane hit. We were glued the whole day. Most of the anniversary coverage was about the twin towers instead of the downed in Pennsylvania Flight 93 or the Pentagon because we all experienced it with them on TV. Shared cell phone calls connected us more closely with the other two flights, however.
3) The loss of the first responders when the towers fell. Much of the coverage centered around their voluntary deaths. Greater love hath no man than to give up his life for his friends.
4) The prolonged nature of the day. The delay in knowing you will probably not survive, and the hour or less till it happened is so excruciating to think about. Listening to the 9/11 calls from above the impact brings it right to your room, “I’m going to die aren’t I?” in a panicked voice. “No, try to think positively.” Hysterical crying. Lord have mercy on her soul.
5) The size of the buildings that came down. Watching the flaming holes, relatively small compared to the rest of the building, made by huge jets, and then the unthinkable collapse, was incomprehensible to the direct witnesses, who were so many because it’s New York City. The look of shock in the witnesses faces was universal.
Along with this is the amount of debris and devastation.
6) The unbelievably focused, patient, deadly intention, planning, and unthinkable success of the hijackers.