I was thinking back about the past ten years today and something crossed my mind that was a little unsettling. Why do we remember 9-11 in such a desensitized manner? Perhaps that is the wrong word (we’ve all cried over memories, seen some images repeatedly, etc, etc) but we don’t seem to remember 9-11 for what it was. A horrible, gruesome day.
What crossed my mind today when thinking about 9-11 was a tragedy of much greater proportions: the Holocaust. Specifically I thought of the Holocaust Museum in D.C., and movies like Schindler’s List that have ingrained the memory of the event in the minds of generations to come. It wasn’t in our lifetime, but we get the horror of it the second we think about it. The first thing you see when you take the elevator to the top floor of the Holocaust Museum is an image of a pile of bodies. The exhibits throw the horror of it right in your face (as they should), and you never forget what you see. People of my generation who didn’t live through it will still always remember it completely because we’ve been directly shown how bad it was.
With 9-11 (and modern events in general, I think) we don’t do this. Why? Images such as the one above, a simple picture of the people who made the decision to jump, are considered insensitive and inappropriate for things such as news programs that put together remembrance documentaries. You even hear some people who say the images of the towers on fire are seen and shown too much. What are people afraid to see?
That day was horrific and most people don’t even know the half of it. There are images from 9-11 that rival the one’s at the Holocaust museum in terms of pure gruesomeness but most Americans will never look at them. For some reason we don’t expose ourselves now a days to remembering just how bad things were on 9-11.
I’m not suggesting we should plaster the worst 9-11 pictures all over TV. I am wondering what the Ground Zero museum opening later this year will be like though. For some reason I doubt it will portray the day in the brutal detail that the Holocaust Museum lays out its story. And that, I think, is a shame. We should show future generations everything. It is the only way to remember and learn from the real history.