Six months. It isn’t quite an anniversary, but in the minds of the American public and the rest of world, it’s apparently enough of a reason to “commemorate” September 11. The fact of the matter is a six-month span is hardly a period to have a commemoration. In fact, it’s hard not to wonder how the commemoration is being used-political or otherwise. This commemoration is not for the victims of the attacks, it’s actually for everyone else.
Consider what happened on March 11. A pair of twin beams was broadcast from the site into the sky, brightly enough to be seen from space. Called the "Tribute in Light," it was a grand gesture meant for the victims of the attacks and their families. The CBS documentary 9/11 also aired on March 10, hosted by the familiar face of Robert DeNiro. It’s funny how we need a celebrity to help us understand the tragedy, as if DeNiro signing on to introduce the documentary imbued a new sense of importance into its broadcast.
Most nauseating of all, however, were the events following a September 11 postage stamp unveiling by President Dubya himself. The stamp is of the photograph of the firefighters who raised the American flag at ground zero the day after the attacks, with the word "Heroes" in the upper right corner. The disgusting part is that Bush would later use the opportunity to remind the world that terrorism is a constant threat and that the international coalition must not waver in its fight to eradicate terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, except for those under American control, of course.
Based on these reasons, March 11, 2002, six months later, is not truly for the victims of September 11, 2001. It’s being used to beat the war drums and give the U.S. administration more support for an ever-prolonged war against its newest enemy, the so-called "Axis of Evil."
Of course, this is not to say that the victims and those that survive them do not deserve any sort of ceremony or recognition, as strange as it is to remember something six months later. Dealing with loss is an ultimately private affair, as funerals are really meant for the living and not the dead. Instead, their suffering loses its purity because of all the politicking occurring on their behalf. What does six months even mean to these people? It can’t have the same gravity as a one-year anniversary, much less a decade of time.
For example, this week the Globe and Mail is carrying a week’s worth of survivor stories. On March 11, they carried the story of Michael James, whose wife worked on the 79th floor of the north tower. James has apparently left all his wife’s belongings as they were on September 11, and just because six months have passed he wasn’t about to put them away. For James and other individuals like him, suffering will continue even when the world stops for a moment to look in on their lives.
Six months means little. A six-month "anniversary" isn’t an anniversary at all, no matter how you slice it. Six months, 181 days, 4,344 hours-all of them are arbitrary measurements we place on the passage of time, and all of them represent odd signposts by which to commemorate September 11.
Worst of all, this six-month commemoration isn’t for purely the people who lost loved ones. It’s for the politicians, the public and everybody else with self interest and something to gain.