With the ten year anniversary of 9/11 looming tall just down the road, the media is gearing up for a national grief fest of massive proportions. After nearly a decade of shameful argument, the memorial is almost finished. The decade saw ego-filled architects riding into battle with plans of ever-higher spires held like lances before them, urged on by corporate bullies and political hacks, espousing taller buildings, glass and steel, smoke and mirrors, designed to show the world we would not be broken, to demonstrate our patriotism, our strength as a nation.
I'd always thought the best memorial was the twin lights that are turned on each year, creating ghost towers in the night sky. The starkness of the lights seemed more fitting than any building, no matter how tall, or statue, no matter how beautiful, or engraved stone, no matter how many names were listed, or piece of tangled metal, no matter that it contained the ash of hundreds of evaporated bones.
Today, I found an even better memorial. A simple piece of time lapse video, shows the construction of the 9/11 memorial on the site of the World Trade Center towers. I was deeply moved, not by the final result, which I'm sure will be beautiful and will properly and solemnly honor the dead, but by the act of rebuilding that is shown in these images, taken from 2004-2011. It is the act itself, not the result, that is the best memorial ever. The cooperation, the hard work, the dedication, the optimism, the never-say-die attitude of the ordinary American working person: That is the thing that will defeat terrorism.
The working people of this country are not rich, we can't afford deluxe holidays on sunny beaches, we have to save long and hard to get a new car or a new fridge or a college education for our kids. We don't wave flags in your face, because we are too busy working. We don't show up at political rallys, because we are too busy working, and because our BS radar is fully functional. We see what is happening around us, and vote accordingly. The work force is filled with people who still recognize common sense, who are not as easily fooled as some would think.
So please, as this anniversary approaches, honor those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, working people all, including those who went to rescue them and those who worked endless and dangerous weeks to retrieve remains. But even better, acknowledge those who work tirelessly on in their jobs. Acknowledge the firemen, the law-enforcement workers, the members of the military, the teachers, the garbage collectors, the street sweeper or power line worker or postal delivery person, or nursing home attendant or writer or anyone else who works thanklessly at a job day after day to get something accomplished. They show the power of cooperation every day. It happens all the time.
Look at that video again. Those buildings were not constructed by people who sat around and argued party lines for months at a time. Those of us who work for a living are not so interested in what party we belong to, but whether we can get the job done on deadline, feed our families, take care of our elders and those among us who are not able to take care of themselves.