When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

11 September 2007

9/11: Moving from grief to remembrance

No one who was in New York City on that awful day six years ago will forget the terrorist attacks.

We will remember. We should remember.

But, with all due respect to those who lost friends and loved ones in the Twin Towers, or in the Pentagon, or aboard one of the hijacked aircraft, it is time that we as a country focus on remembrance, and not grief.

I am not Michael Bloomberg's biggest fan, although I think he's been a very competent mayor in a city that's notoriously difficult to govern. But I think he's right on the money here:
The planning in New York City for today’s commemoration of the 2001 terror attack had become a seemingly familiar standoff.

On one side was a vocal core of victims’ relatives threatening to hold their own event because the ceremony would, for the first time, take place not at ground zero but across the street, at Zuccotti Park. On the other, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, accused by the relatives of insensitivity, was holding firm that it was unsafe to allow mourners at what was now an active construction site.

The mayor and the families agreed to a compromise: the ceremony would be held at the park but relatives would still be allowed to descend to the pit where their loved ones perished.

When he took over as mayor in 2002, Mr. Bloomberg threw himself into fixing the many pressing problems wrought by the terror attack: shoring up the security of a city suddenly at the center of a bull’s-eye; closing the gaping hole in the midst of Lower Manhattan; bolstering a sinking economy suffering the loss of thousands of jobs.

But the mayor has also played an essential if more subtle role in nudging the city to gradually let go of its grief. It is a challenge the mayor has handled sometimes clumsily and sometimes with great sensitivity and eloquence, as he charted the path away from the concrete events of 2001. Now, as he works to imbue the city with optimism for the future, he even hints at a day when remembering may not mean reading the names of all the dead.

“You’re going to have to change to keep it relevant,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference yesterday when asked about the fact that one television network had originally planned not to broadcast the entire ceremony, which exceeds four hours. “I’ve never been a believer that doing the same thing every time is the best way to accomplish anything.”
Bloomberg Tries to Move the City Beyond 9/11 Grief (New York Times, 11 September 2007)

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