This year, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center, turned into a maudlin, morose display on the weekend that marked that same day 10 years ago.
Every television news network — CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, FOX and CNN — chose to run voluminous programs on the event, re-hashing the infamous day in all its gory detail and every facet of what happened that day.
It is difficult to explain why so many news sources felt it necessary to dredge up the happenings of that day. Was it simply because it made it easier for those news sources to provide news of that event rather than to investigate and report on all the current important happenings around the world such as the continuing pushes for popular governments in Libya, Egypt and Syria, the incredible hunger and starvation in Somalia and the continuing escapades of the “pirates” operating from that ravaged country, America’s armed forces still operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ongoing friction between Palestinians and Israelis now dragging other countries into the dispute (Turkey), drought in China, wildfires in Texas and California, floods in our own Northeast, two more hurricanes heading for the east coast of the United States, the failed infrastructure along the Mexican coast which put millions at the mercy of blackouts, reconstruction of Japan’s coastal cities after an earthquake and tsunami, rebuilding in New Zealand following a devastating earthquake, rebuilding in Joplin, Mo. following a huge tornado, or repairing monuments in Washington, D.C. following a rare east coast earthquake?
Neither newspapers nor television networks expanded their coverages to provide information for all the various important current issues when they printed or aired coverage about the historical significance of the date. Each simply provided the same amount of space or air time and filled more of each with visuals and commentaries and stories about 9/11.
Of course this is an important date in the history of America. Of course it needs to be remembered and it will be for generations to come, but some day the date will become as little known as Dec. 7, 1941 is to younger generations now, a date on which nearly as many people died as did on 9/11, but also a date which set America on a path to a war which eventually claimed as many as 50 million lives.
And while discussing the issue of 9/11, why did the United States Congress provide a Victims’ Compensation Fund of some $7 billion dollars to pay off families of those killed in the fall of the twin towers? The average payout per family was $1.8 million. The creation of this fund was solely to keep victims’ families from suing the airlines for lack of security. If the airlines were so afraid of potential legal actions, why did they not combine and provide the fund themselves instead of relying on government to do so? After all, it was not the American people — who are the ones who have paid for this fund — who were collectively responsible for the terrorist acts.
There is a difference between remembering the events of history and obsessing over them. Maybe it will take many more years before the American public can begin to put 9/11 behind it and merely begin to see that date as a pivotal point of our history. For the families directly affected by the acts of that day and the loved ones they lost, remembering is likely to be a life-long experience and for them there can be no surcease.
For the rest of the country, we should not expect that every year or every five or 10 years will result in a nationwide display of overt mourning or reminiscence. Let us now relegate this date to our history books, along with all the other monumental dates of our past and begin to build our future by looking ahead and dealing with those momentous issues over which we may have some influence.
Chuck Witt is a Sun community columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.