Mostly I’ve avoided the coverage of the 10 year anniversary—consciously and subconsciously. I had a personal connection that I’ve written about on this day in past years, but somehow this year I almost can’t bear to write—or read another word—a feeling expressed in the brave and beautiful words of a 9/11 widow.
Yet in the weeks leading up to 9/ 11, I’ve been immersed in the historical perspective of tragedy—–one much further in place and time and of greater magnitude.
Starting with a book I read a few weeks ago called the Invisible Bridge-–with Sarah’s Key in the middle and ending with In the Garden of Beasts, about Berlin in the years during Hitler’s rise to power—I’ve been steeped in fictional and real stories of the Holocaust.
I’m not trying to draw a parallel with 9/11 but I can’t help seeing a common theme—-how much we humans need to remember to Never Forget.
I also can’t help seeing another connection. Being born less than 10 years after World War II ended, awareness was part of my consciousness as a Jew, and a human being. I grew up believing all Germans were enemies, and I was a target. Could it happen here?
As a college student I sat in a Munich beer hall wondering if the congenial group of older men sharing my table had been Nazi soldiers.
Years later, I met a man who actually had been a German soldier in the war.
That man was a doctor who had emigrated to the United States; a remarkable scientist and human being, he was the man who saved my life when I had cancer.
Normally when I write a post I try to draw some conclusion or lesson from it. This time I’m not sure what my point is. I have more questions than answers about what I’m trying to express.
Something about being human means we don’t want to forget; but also part of being human is being able to forgive.
This stems from a provocative post I just read, mixed in with the Holocaust reading and movies—(Here’s the link; it’s well worth reading.) The concept is that our response to 9/11 over 10 years has bankrupted our country —financially and morally. In the days following 9/11 when the nation and the world drew together, what might have resulted had we chosen to continue and expand on that spirit?
The author’s point is that there is no end to the human cycle of revenge. It’s something to think about.
As individuals and a society—we require justice—to function and survive. So is it possible that we can Never Forget—And Forgive?