There is nothing funny about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. There is nothing humorous about an attack on a Colorado movie theater or a campus shooting at Virginia tech or the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. At this point you may be asking why a humor column would begin with such grave events. Allow me to explain.
If today I asked you where you were on September 11, 2001, when you learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center, you would likely recount the details of being at work or school or perhaps getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist’s office. However, there is a generation not too far behind our own that does not know the events of that day, just as we have no memory of the events of November 22, 1963, and many if not all of our parents have no memory of December 7, 1941. Such is the natural course of life, and so it seems that as time passes, tragic dates such as these become more distant both in reality and in our minds.
Before you lambast me for this comment, think about the following scene. While walking around campus on this day September 11, 2012, the anniversary day attacks do not seem to weigh quite as heavily on the minds of us the students even as much as they did last year, when we celebrated an all school Mass on library quad. Today there simply is not the same somber mood as in previous years. My initial thought was how terrible that people do not seem visibly affected, and then my mindset changed almost immediately. As I was reading President Bush’s September 20, 2001 address to the American people before one of my classes, I realized that these people –students, employees, classmates — were returning to that “normal” to which President Bush referred. This day, and the days to come after it, continue to be our nation’s return to normal.
As this anniversary day continued, people still went to work, clubs still held their meetings, and people even still had fun and laughed. While I was talking with a friend, one of her professors walked by and said “What a beautiful day it is.” How right he was. September 11, 2012 was a beautiful day in South Bend, Indiana. But it is still hard to completely assent to the idea that people were enjoying the day – this day – September 11. A somber anniversary was turned into a day for celebrating the lives we have and living them with the freedom given us. Many are still mourning, and we as an American people will always feel the weight of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
There will be moments, though, when the grieving subsides and the weight becomes lighter. For most of us, I suspect that the most difficult moments and memories we experience occur on the anniversary day itself. For those who were more closely connected, I suspect the subsiding moments are not so many. We are one nation, and I believe that the sign of our resolve, especially as we remember those tragic events over one decade later, can be found in our ability to enjoy the September 11ths we have ahead of us: to have fun, to laugh, to really live, to remember – always. It will still be okay to cry, to mourn, to be angry, to feel pain, but soon it will also be okay to be genuinely happy on September 11.
“None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.” – President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001.
Michael Jackson is a fifth year in the Reilly Dual degree program who plays the saxophone and loves the US of A. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.