As the years pass, it seems there's a growing rift between those parts of the country that experienced 9/11 as a 'virtual' event, for lack of a better word, and those that got it as a real flesh and blood, bricks and mortar collision with their lives. Inevitably that latter category is centered in the Greater New York City area and the couple hundred miles around it, in DC and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Also, since New York is the capital of the national media world (with DC a close second), those people's experiences are magnified through the press.
For those who weren't up close, the unresolved political overlay inevitably bulks much larger in the equation. And I think this applies on both sides of the country's on-going national antagonism. In my original post, I said that I think some people who are skeptical about 9/11 remembrances feel that it's a form of pressure to 're-upp' in some way in a War on Terror they never fully bought into and whose time has past. TPM Reader DE gets at this when he says ...
So my personal unease with 9/11 memorials is the feeling that there are a lot of people in this country with a vested interest in the country not moving on, even though the two main perpetrators of the attack are either dead or in US custody and the organization they led has been soundly defeated. They want our leaders to keep delivering the Gettysburg Address every year, to keep us on that war footing, so that they can misdirect our resources and some Americans' lives in the service of foreign and domestic policy goals that have nothing to do with what happened on 9/11.
This is too bad on a number of levels; but I totally understand it. I even feel it to an extent myself. But for me it's overmatched by knowing that this happened only about two miles from where I live and many people around me have traumatic memories of the event itself.
This is an iPhone photo I took on September 9th at the corner of 6th Avenue and 23rd Street, looking south down to the lower tip of Manhattan. This was actually a 'test' of the 9/11 memorial for two days later, two shafts of light representing where the Twin Towers once stood. The relatively low cloud cover that night splays the light out in that vaguely flying saucerish kind of way.
For those in the communities directly affected by the attacks I think it's possible, at least partly, to commemorate the event on its own terms, as a massive disaster, very different, but not wholly different from a massive natural disaster or other non-terrorist disaster. What I mean here is on its own terms not owned by everything that grew out of it. Further away, I think it's the national conflict over how we reacted that inevitably bulks far far larger.
At some point, I think it will be possible to memorialize this event simply on its own terms, indeed to get some distance on the whole transformation of the country it brought in its wake (and I do not think that is too big a word). But we are clearly not there yet. Not even close. This is what I mean by a smaller 9/11, one on its own terms rather than a cudgel or unresolved fight that still holds a grasp over the present.