This is the first year since September 11, 2001 that I haven’t marked the anniversary at a public gathering. I was stuck in a meeting, so I had my computer open, tracking the timeline and quietly calling out the key events, which may have been unwelcome by the others at the table, but that’s tough. And this was a year when it felt like everything about the observance of the day changed. We’ve blown past We are all Americans today (thanks, George W. Bush), past calling it The Site and now calling it Ground Zero (which sounds less like a place of tragedy and more like a place to be avenged), past when the names were read to the ringing of bells where it happened and everybody in America sat glued, and solemn.
We’re now into September 11 as political fodder for assholes like “Rev.” Terry Jones, haters looking for the next event on the horizon, and gullible media. So, I was glad to sit this one out with just my timeline of what really happened in front of me.
But that’s because I don’t live anywhere near Hoboken. And, to tell the truth, I missed word of what that city did to mark the day. So I’m glad somebody who lives there sent me a story about it afterward. And, especially because it happened within site of where the Towers once stood, it’s all very encouraging.
At an Interfaith Memorial Service, clergy members read from the Torah in Hebrew, from the New Testament, and from the Quran in Arabic. And the world did not fall apart, freedom was celebrated the way freedom really is (and not as a perversion of one religion against another), and tolerance, respect, and mutual support in grief was experienced. Senator Menendez was there, describing the day for those reliving it. The names of the 57 people Hoboken lost were read out loud. And if a city that lost 57 can have a day like that, we all ought to be able to calm the hell down, stop looking for enemies amongst out neighbors and remember our obligations to each other, as each of those religions, and many more – including the secular humanist traditions – teach us.