I started writing the following piece in the hope that my perspective could bring her clarity. As I wrote, I realized there are probably many young people who feel the way she does, and I want the opportunity to share it with them as well.
I'm named after a man who died of gangrene three days after taking a Vichy French bullet during the Battle of St. Cloud in North Africa on November 10, 1942. I'm telling you this so you understand that I've spent a good deal of my 47 years on earth considering how best to honor the fallen.
I saw the towers fall from up close. In 2007 I wrote about my memories of that day. It's important that I share those memories so you understand how that tragedy affected me, and how deeply I care about honoring the victims.
Since that day, I've watched my country's response with horror.
We went to war with a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack, and even the most conservative estimates put the death toll from that war at well over one hundred thousand civilian noncombatants. For every one of the September 11th victims, at least forty other people—people who had nothing to do with them—are now dead.
Three years ago people took images from September 11th and twisted them to justify torture. I never thought I'd see Americans do anything that evil, but Americans did that. I watched them do it. They did it with gladness in their hearts, and the most sickening part was that they seemed to think themselves patriots. It was one of the most obscene displays I've witnessed in my life. I'd like to share with you my response to that desecration.
And now people evoke those same images to provoke fear and hate. You weren't alive, or aware, for a lot of what I've just recounted, but you're old enough to have processed that. You've only seen the tip of it, but for sixteen years people have used the September 11th victims as kindling. And the fires they built desecrate the very memories that those so-called patriots purport to honor.
Now you may say that I should honor the victims in my own way regardless of what other people do, and I wouldn't disagree with that in principle. But on a practical level, I can't control what other people do with those painful memories. Can you blame me for not wanting to conjure images I've seen so many abuse?
And yet. If I remain silent, all you'll hear is the narrative put forth by those who aren't. Here are a few snippets from the replies to your Dad's post about your writing.
Very nice to see some of our younger generation respect and care for that day......wish there was more like her.....very well done......and speaking as a fireman....all my brothers and sisters that lost their lives in those towers would thank you as well....!!!!! Thank You for caring..!!!
Way to go.... for doing exactly what you're suggesting the school do.... more. For going out of your way to voice what those who died can't, for not drifting through life with a shrug, for not being afraid of offending someone...
...that was awesome. You so inspiring. Why have Americans forgot one of our worst times in our history.
The guy who mentioned his brothers and sisters that lost their lives? I've seen him use images of that day to vilify Muslims.
The bit about "not drifting through life with a shrug, for not being afraid of offending someone"? I'm not drifting through life with a shrug, and I'm bloody well not afraid of offending someone. I'm scared out of my mind at the thought of those horrific memories being used to murder even more innocent people.
"Why have Americans forgot"? I will never forget.
I ain't quiet about it because I've forgotten. I'm quiet because I remember too well.
I can't speak for the teachers and administrators at your school. Maybe there are those who are afraid of offending someone. Maybe there are those who would rather let the memories fade than deal with the pain. But it wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of folks who feel the way I do.