I have spent a little bit of time this morning pondering why I find all the 9/11 commemoration distasteful (for me, personally; I am not trying to tell anyone else that they are not entitled to commemorate, or remember, or grieve, in whatever way they find most helpful. Especially not those people who actually were in NYC or the Pentagon during the attacks - while I was smack in the middle of cornfields in the middle of the country. There was probably nowhere LESS likely to be subject to a terrorist attack than where I lived, so I cannot claim any insight at all into the experience, nor into what helps someone survive and process such an experience).
Maybe one mini-anecdoate is revealing: out in the middle of those cornfields, the local radio station started playing Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA almost non-stop, which absolutely INFURIATED me. Did they not understand the lyrics to the song? Did they not understand that the song is a CRITIQUE of the United States? At the very least, it is not a straightforward anthem of celebration. But that is how many around me seemed to understand it.
This was my experience of 9/11: a tragedy, and lots of genuine heroism, hijacked by a knee-jerk reversion to unthinking jingoism.
I know that is not what it means to a huge number of people, perhaps everyone else besides me. But because I didn't experience any of the events of 9/11 firsthand, the actual day is overshadowed by the things I dislike that came out of it, that I have experienced closer to firsthand: jingoism, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, anti-Islamic sentiment, and security theater.
So I have to admit that I am not especially interested in today's commemorations. The good parts of such calls to memory - the reasons why they can be valuable - are not mine to claim or comment on; the bad parts of such calls to memory are not things I want to consider.
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About being a bad historian: I also find no impulse whatsoever to archive anything surrounding this event. It seems forced, artificial; let what survives, survive. Let what doesn't, not. This, to me, puts events in their proper perspective. I feel no need to record things for future historians. They can play the hands they're dealt, surviving-sources-wise, as we historians all have.
But then, if I remain a historian at all, I am a medievalist. I studied things that happened 500-600 years ago. I remain very skeptical that a mere ten years has given us any perspective on this event at all. (I read a comment somewhere that the space devoted to 9/11 in textbooks has been shrinking. Maybe that's actually correct; maybe it doesn't deserve as much space as it had previously been given.) I would rather leave assessments to future, more distant viewers of this particular past.