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Reluctantly Remembering 9/11

By carolyncastiglia |

september 11th, 9/11, never forget

Maybe we should consider forgetting. A little bit.

There’s a line from this Barenaked Ladies song I like (I know) that goes, “How am I supposed to remember you when you won’t let me forget?” No, the song isn’t about 9/11, but it might as well be. I really thought, 11 years later, that this was going to be the year that I would be able to get through September 11th without being bombarded by SEPTEMBER 11TH, but alas, it didn’t happen. It might never happen, since everyone has a 9/11 story they love to trot out annually, even Kim Kardashian. “I was in bed and my dad called me and told me I didn’t have to come into work and told me what happened. He then called a family meeting at my mom’s house. I didn’t know anyone directly involved but it seemed so close to home.”

Wow, Kim. Wow. Deep. I understand now why Kanye thinks of you as his Perfect Bitch. (I mean, I know I’m not directly involved, but your love affair seems so close to home.)

At some point, I’m hoping that the culture at large learns to handle 9/11 with humor, like The Onion did today with their hilarious headline, “Man Halfway Down Giant Water Slide Remembers Today 9/11.” Instead, as comedian Joe Mande is pointing out on his amazing Twitter feed today, 9/11 is turning into yet another Hallmark Holiday that corporations can exploit to increase their brand visibility. “Today we remember not the tragedy but the heroes who gave their lives and the families that must endure.” – That’s from The Vitamin Shoppe, which is featuring a 50% off coupon in the sidebar of its page!!! Kind of like when the first tower fell and the second one was still standing, amirightpeople??? #georgeW (I really should start saying “George W!” after all my jokes. It even sounds like a rim shot.)

I mean, how many years have to go by before those of us who did not lose a loved one get to enjoy the beauty of a September 11th morning without it being 9/11, the day of the terror attacks we can NEVER FORGET? I lived in New York on 9/11, and every year I have to re-live all the moments, everything that happened, just because I accidentally glanced at a TV playing in the laundromat or looked at the newspaper. I had to do some laundry this morning, and there it was, the name-reading ceremony in high definition on two screens. I choked up through the whole thing while washing and folding because I’m too empathetic to be able to ignore family member after family member weeping about the children, uncles, aunts, cousins, sisters and brothers they lost. One man lost his twin and mentioned that 46 people with twins actually perished in the attacks – I had no idea. But what surprised me the most were the children. The young children – some of whom never even met the parent they lost on 9/11 – up on the podium, reading the names of deceased strangers like pros and giving praise to their phantom fathers who fell.

One little boy, who was so poised for his age, said of his dad who died, “He wasn’t a fire fighter, a police officer or a rescue worker, but he was my hero …. I hope to be a real man like you.” Another little girl lost her mother in the attacks, the girl was only a baby when her mother perished. She read a poem and mentioned seeing her mom again someday, as so many family members did about their loved ones. I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up from the very beginning with the spectre of a father (and in a few cases, a mother) who died in the World Trade Center attacks. I could see that these kids were under a sort of pressure to know these people in spite of not knowing them, to love them as they would a living parent in spite of not having more than a few years at most to see them or touch them. And most importantly, I could see that these kids felt a sense of duty to not fail these dead parents, these “heroes” as they were called time and time again. I understand where all these notions come from, but wow. What about offering these kids a chance to not have their lives defined by death? I mean, my life has sort of been defined by tragedy and the notion of a phantom parent, and I know what that’s done to me. I guess that’s why I felt compelled to write about these kids, because in listening to them talk – in listening to 90% of the family members talk, I thought, “What about letting go? What about forgetting to NEVER FORGET?” One family member used his time on the podium to say he hopes that not only will we never forget, but that we should never forgive! Talk about asking for a lifetime of grief and unhappiness. Never forgiving, not being able to resist hate, that’s the kind of ideology that caused these attacks! And this is why it’s so hard for humans to transcend war. For what?

I know about death, I know about betrayal, I know about having to forgive someone who tried to destroy you. It’s not easy. But it’s too hard not to. I hope these children of 9/11 I saw speaking today will one day be able to be on a water slide and halfway down realize, “Oh yeah, today’s that day,” and then move on and have some fun. I hope I can move on from all the tragic events of my past and have some fun, too.


Learn more about Carolyn at her blog.
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Check out more from Carolyn on Babble:

The Most Unique, Ironic, Hilarious Names for Your Hipster Baby

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15 Tips to Help Night Owls Become Morning People

How to Win an Election with Humor: Funniest Obama Gear

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “Reluctantly Remembering 9/11

  1. goddess says:

    I disagree Carolyn. As one who lost a son, I can tell you one thing: you learn that sadness can co-exist in your heart along side of hope and happiness. We went on to have 2 more beautiful kids, and we are happy. But on the day our son died, and on his birthday, we take the time to grieve a little.
    And for 911, I believe we can ALL donate a day of our time to join these people who lost someone in such a horrific, unfathomable and public way- and embrace their grief in order that this act never IS forgotten.
    If you actually want to be sheltered, I’d say, plan a day off, do not engage media and pamper yourself- but some great books, play some good music and have a good dinner and some wine.
    But I’d say let people who want or need to remember, and let the media make it easier for those who’d like to support, do so and lend them some solidarity. It hurts us for day, but they lost a chunk of heart. And they can go on to live a full life on most days- but on anniversaries many like to take the time to remember. That’s not a bad or unhealthy thing.

  2. Luther Brixton says:

    I agree there’s something deeply disturbing about this annual “celebration” the country goes through. How many times can you watch the twin towers fall before you become desensitized by it? What kind of people were watching MSNBC (and possibly other networks) this morning as they replayed the “events of the day as they happened”? You can’t help but picture people sitting at home eating popcorn or working out on a treadmill while watching the “Events of 9/11″ likes they’re watching some IMAX spectacular.

    How many times have you heard people today speaking about the unity “we all felt” after 3,000 people were murdered in cold blood? And when they speak about that “unity”, do they seem nauseated by it or do they seem to actually long for it?

    If folks want to remember that day, they should do so privately – not in such gratuitously public displays. Why should those of us in the NYC be forced to relive that nightmare because (1) the networks care more about ratings than common decency and (b) it fulfills some sick nostalgic longings in folks who wish that we could all “rally around in unity” over the dead all over again.

  3. DeathMetalMommy says:

    I expect that in a few decades it will wear off. Kinda like Pearl Harbor. Have we forgotten it? No, but it’s not a freshly healed wound anymore. The lives that were lost on December 8 were no less precious than the ones we lost on September 11. Naturally 9/11 hits closer to home for some and they understandably want to keep remembering it, to keep on rubbing lemon juice into that paper cut. Those of us who were not directly affected by it don’t see it in as much technicolor pain and grief. Both sides have the right to either relive that pain or go on about their business.

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