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the things they carried

This photo was taken at the Fresh Kills landfill, the place where all the debris from the World Trade Center made its final stop. Wedding rings, watches, gold bands, all once worn by someone very much alive.

When people ask why I still feel so much pain and anger two years later, why I spend so much emotion on that day when people die every single day, they only need to look at this picture. 3,000 people. One day. One hour. All dead.

There are their wedding rings. Their watches and gold chains, some given to its owner by a lover or mother or friend. Some worn as mere dressing, some worn as testaments to love and honor. Earrings that were carefully picked out that morning, bracelets put on in a hurry as someone rushed to catch a train.

These items speak of the humans they belonged to. People with lives and families and jewelry boxes sitting on dressers, filled with trinkets to wear on another day, a day that would never come.

Imagine if all that was left of someone you loved was a wedding band sitting in a box in a landfill. Imagine if someone you loved or even just liked left for work one day and never came home because some zealots on a mission used their office, their building to send a terrible, devastating message. Imagine if all that was left of them was a segment of a gold chain they had worn that day.

Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you feel pain? Would you expect that the pain would subside two years later?

Are you a free person? Are you an American? If so, then put yourself in those buildings on September 11, 2001. Put yourself in the Pentagon or on a plane flying over Pennsylvania. Because those pieces of jewelry? They belong to you, too. It wasn't an attack on a middle-aged clerical worker filing away papers that morning. It was an attack on all of us who value freedom, who value democracy.

Look again at those rings and bracelets and chains. Think about them lying in a box at Fresh Kills. Think about who they once belonged to. They belong to you, now. That is our legacy. To forget, to move on, to let that day slide into the back of our minds like just another Tuesday morning is to forget that the death of 3,000 people was directed at all of us, not just them.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference the things they carried:

» Gold chains from Inoperable Terran
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» Why I'm Over Sep. 11 from Hi. I'm Black!
Michele from A Small Victory seems to be a very passionate person as evidenced in her recent post regarding jewelry found in a landfill from the WTC victims of 9/11. (Quote)"When [Read More]


damn. powerful post as always, Michele.

To want to forget 9/11 is unspeakable, to be able to forget is impossible. If people tell you differently, they're idiots, or in denial, or both.

I heard an NPR story this weekend in which the correspondent walked around Adams Morgan Day in DC, a yearly festival of food and fun, asking participants what their feelings were this close to the anniversary. Most people were reluctant to gloom up their day, but one guy gladly spoke up, explaining that the festival was a sign that people are finally "getting over it" ("it" being the worst tragedy in American history). I didn't believe him for a moment, and if you heard his voice you wouldn't have either.

I'll "get over it" when the last militant radical islamist is dead.

Full Auto: Ditto, except I'd probably require a mushroom cloud over Mecca, for that deep-down satisfaction...

oh i'm pissed. i had to rescue a friend from that neighborhood. friends of mine lost their children there that day. i have tasted the smoke from those fires. it has burned my eyes. i saw the shell shocked fire fighters walking the streets of nyc.

i'm still pissed.

and i'm increasingly pissed that two years later we still have not caught all those bastards responsible for it.

Oooooo Kim. Nice. You are obviously a person who knows how to finesse any kind of job.

been reading your blog for a while now, but after the picture today, had to comment, great entry, and wonderful site. I totally agree. It's all about the future, the survivors. Nice Work. t

Four images I'll take to the grave:
1) Jackie Kennedy scrabbling around on the back of the limousine, scraping up her husband's brains
2) The South Vietnamese "napalm girl" running naked down the highway.
3) The South Vietnamese security agent blowing away the Viet Cong who had killed his brother.
4) People in mid-air leaping from the burning World Trade Center. Were they avoiding being burned alive, or hoping against hope that they might survive a fall from that height? To this day, I can't wrap my head around the concept of being faced with such a choice. It would only be "meet and just" that the perpetrators of these deeds, and their accomplices before and after the fact, be given the same choice.

"then put yourself in those buildings on September 11, 2001"

I have...every day...since 9/12/01. And it's the scariest fuckin' thing I'ver ever had to think about in my entire life.

I just finished watching the three-hour "Center of the World" on PBS, and I wept constantly throughout it, even though only the third hour dealt with the tragedy. The best words in the documentary came from Mario Cuomo, who reminded me that the horrors of that day were met with - and more than matched by - some of the greatest acts of love any of us could ever hope to witness.

"We lost all those firemen. We lost police," Cuomo says towards the end of the show. "We had this fantastic contradiction of people who hated you so much that they were willing to give up their life to take yours, and people who loved humanity so much that they were willing to run into the darn building in the smoke and flames, just to save the life of somebody they never met."

No amount of hatred or political ideology could ever hope to match that kind of love.

Michele, do you welcome comments such as Kim's? I ask the question honestly, without sarcasm.

Kim has the right idea. Didn't go far enough, though. Several mushroom clouds should be employed in order to convert that region into the largest glass lined skating rink in the world with the additional benefit of becoming a jumbo sized parking lot for camels.

Now, THAT might be appropriate and enjoyable.

Another Cuomo quote from "Center of the World" (on what should be done with Ground Zero)

I would like to see some depiction of all the religions, list them all: atheism, ethical humanism, Catholicism, etc., etc. All of them. And you notice that each of those religions, these value systems, have two principles they share in common. And the two principles started with monotheism and the Jews: tzedakah and tikkun olam. [Tzedakah] means generally: we must treat one another as brother and sister. We should show one another respect and dignity, because we are like things. We are human beings in a world that has nothing else like us. And we ought to treat one another with love, charity - use your own words. And the second principle is: Well, what do you do with this relationship? Well, we don't know exactly how we got here, why we got here, etc., etc. That's for minds larger than ours. But we know that we are like kinds, and we should work together to make this as good an experience as possible. Tikkun Olam -- let us repair the universe. Now, Islam believes that. Buddhism, that has no god, believes it. Every ethical humanist I ever met believes it. Those two principles: we're supposed to love one another and we're supposed to work together to make the experience better. That's all the religion you need, really, to make a success of this planet. And I'd like to see that in 9/11 somewhere. I'd like to see that captured somehow.

I have the same question, Peggy. This is one of the reasons why we shouldn't let ourselves remain in a constant state of "pain and anger" over Sept. 11, as horrible as the day was for Americans and many other people around the world. Anger feeds irrational hatred, and that leads to more people who have nothing left of their loved ones but jewelry.

While 9-11 is and always will be an unspeakably sad day, we must never forget that it was done by a group of people who do not represent anything but themselves. Islam, like Hindu, Christianity (in its various forms), Buddhism, and many other religions is a peaceful one. To put this in perspective, would you want Africa to make the United States a slag heap just because of the actions of some of its misguided citizens - perhaps the Ku Klux Klan? Would you welcome the efforts of the government of various African nations in the effort to neutralize the KKK threat?

It would ruin my millenium for any country to frag and slag the U.S., but on the other hand if they wanted to assist us with some of our internal problems I would personally welcome that.