One of my students comes into the office for his conference and asks me, earnestly and with sweet sincerity, whether I remember that today is the anniversity of the attack on the World Trade Center -- have I remembered that? We need to remember all those tragic deaths today.
I do remember, I tell him.
A very bad thing, he tells me sadly. So many people died.
I study him across the desk. He would have been -- what? 13? 12? I wonder if he knows people are still dying. I wonder if he counts Iraqis as people. I wonder if anyone he knows is in the Armed Forces. (He's one of our few rich white kids.) I don't say any of this. I just remind him of the Memorial Service, being held at noon by the Bell Tower, and send him on his way.
I do remember the September 11 attacks. I remember where I was when I found out they happened. I remember my students, who had families at the Pentagon, I remember thinking, fiercely, that my brothers were safe. I remember driving across Charlotte with fear bitter in my blood.
I remember, too, what the country was like right after those attacks. I remember how the country felt then -- that shock, the way we all walked around like we had broken in half and the glue was barely holding. I remember the way we did feel like one country, for just a brief while.
I remember not believing -- I did not believe -- that Bush would start a war for no good reason. He would not use the September Eleven Attacks to start a bogus war. I believed that.
But then he did, of course.
Bush spat on the deaths of those killed in the 9/11 attacks, to start this evil war.
And since then he and his team have been driving us further and further apart.
Do I remember?
I remember everything.
5 hours ago