9/11 Grief Takes Many Forms

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Never Forget 9/11. That slogan sends shivers down the backs of Americans from the eastern seaboard, across the fruited plains, over the Rockies, up into Alaska and across the Pacific to Hawaii. Whenever we hear it, we are immediately transported back in time to September 11, 2001 when, no matter where we were or what we were doing, we stopped upruptly, jaw dropped, hand went to mouth and head shook in disbelief.

Being on the west coast, I was in the car when the radio interrupted my pop music for the announcement and a blow by blow of the unfolding destruction of the majestic Twin Towers.

image by Jake Rajs

image by Jake Rajs

Commentators were explicit in their descriptions of the explosions, the falling debris, screaming onlookers, and emerging frenzy as panic began overtaking the financial district and emergency personnel kicked into gear despite their own shock and confusion.

And then bodies started plummeting from 90 stories up. The nation came to a standstill. Speculation on who or what was responsible started forming. The Pentagon, we learned, had been attacked as well. This was no accident.

Thirteen years later, we still shudder when 9/11 is mentioned, instantly serious no matter what frivolity we may be engaged in. With awe we revere the memorial commenorating the 2,977 lives of the fallen–mothers, fathers, brothers, children–and we grieve with the surviving families.

So, when we hear of someone defacing the sacred walls we are incensed. That’s how I felt when learning of the incident in Brooklyn yesterday:

h/t: NBC New York

A man was arrested Saturday in connection with the vandalism of a 9/11 memorial in Brooklyn, police said.

The 58-year-old homeless man was arrested on a charge of criminal mischief, police said. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The arrest came after police released surveillance video they say recorded the man walking near the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance at the MCU Park stadium in Coney Island early Friday. The video was taken shortly after the man smeared white paint on the memorial, according to the NYPD. Police initially identified the suspect in the video as a woman.

The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance is made up of three granite slabs bearing the laser-engraved images of first responders who died in the 9/11 attacks.

The more I ponder this incident, I’ve come to imagine this man is homeless because of 9/11. More details will be released about him, no doubt. But in order for me not be angry with him, not to want to wag a finger of shame at him, I reflect on the possibility that he lost his wife, his job, his friends–life as he knew it–on that day 13 years ago. I’m only an observer of his grief. I cannot feel it as he does.

Then, I cut him some slack, and remind myself that the white paint–his mark–will be wiped away and he will return to his unfathomable state of utter inconsolability that has left him wandering the streets of New York.

 

 

 

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