The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, September 10, 2006  

IT'S 9/11
Don't Call Me
I Won't Answer the Phone

I am dreading tomorrow, Monday, September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of "9/11."

Already this evening, Sunday, September 10, 2006, I have turned off the radio, which at my place is almost always tuned to the local all-news station, because I just can't listen to it -- the false anticipation, crazed as it so often seems to be, of an orgy of self-immolated "don't-we-hurt-so-badly" lunacy -- anymore. I similarly would have shut down the television, but fortunately, I don't subscribe to cable TV and I pull in almost nothing over the air, so that's not even in the, um, picture.

Five years ago tomorrow, and for a couple of days after, when I learned what I had lost on that awful day, I could not speak. I was rendered mute, in the strictest sense of the term, for three days. I could not speak, in the sense that I could not force words past my lips. To the extent possible, I plan to mark this anniversary in like fashion. Sometimes silence is the most rewarding form of contemplation.

I lived in Manhattan "On 9/11," and amid all the insanity and confusion, I remember one of my sisters, a psychologist, that day and thereafter calling and e-mailing me repeatedly, almost incessantly, begging me to pick up the phone and answer, to provide her with for just a few words of reassurance. I didn't, I couldn't, pick up the phone, let alone call her, much as I knew my inability to do so was hurting her, and by extension, others, badly, and I doubt she knew that as time passed the bad news, for me, just kept coming, not one death, but two, then three, then four.

I tire now of those who want me, and us, to remember where we where then. I'm sorry, but it doesn't matter where I was then, and the same holds for the vast majority of us. Look, if you weren't in the World Trade Center -- trying to get the hell out -- or in the Pentagon or on one of the planes that crashed, or were one of the first/second/third responders to those sites, or you lost your spouse/partner/parent/child there, really, what difference does it make where we were? You lost, I lost, they lost. Most important: They -- the They, they -- lost. They are dead.

Soon I will go to sleep, but I know that I'll pray and cry as much tonight and tomorrow as I did five years ago, when I learned my friends Joe, Ann, David, and Danny were viciously murdered, on what should have been an ordinarily beautiful fall Tuesday, just going about their business. I know that some, the deranged ideologues of the Bush Regime, would have us think that we're all of a sudden about to forget them, that in our alleged "complacency" we're content to ignore legitimate threats to the nation we love. I promise you, all of you, my friends, passed so tragically, that this is not true. We will, in time, do better by you.

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