I asked because I wondered whether the gravity of that day’s events needs any Hollywood dramatization to lend it weight, burned as it is into my memory, as it is in yours, as it is in all of ours.
Because the memories of those frozen moments when the minute hand refused to advance is with us still.
As are the memories of the NYPD who rushed to the scene, and the firemen who bravely charged up those stairs, many of whom never came back down again.
As are the memories of the smoke, the burnt pieces of everyday office paper that fluttered gently down to earth to lie softly beside what was left of the jumpers.
As is the slow, nightmare memory of all it come crashing down, the running away in the dust and smoke, all races turned to one by the all-embracing ash, the chaos, the posters asking, “Have you seen my daughter-son-husband-wife-sister-brother-friend?”
As is the memory of all those memorial services that never seemed to end, and the hollowing out of the ground afterwards, like digging out a cancer from our collective soul, hard work, but honest, necessary.
I asked you if it was too soon because there are still across this country thousands of dinner tables where an empty chair screams silently at shattered families who need no movie to make the howling emptiness in their lives coherent, real and tangible.
In the Wall Street Journal today, Dave Beamer answered. Dave Beamer, who lost a son:
I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see “United 93.”
Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.
I will tell you a little secret: I don’t want to see this movie. I don’t. I know how it ends. I remember all of it, every moment.
But I will see it. I will go. And I think perhaps you should too.
I will see it because after five years of incessant war, I have become weary of the fight, even though it is not I who bears the burden of it. It has been such a long, hard road, and we are nowhere near the end of it. Because I wish that we could pass this cup, rather than continue to drink of it.
I will see it because many of the same people who howl that it is “too soon,” are the some of same ones who pulled the images down from the news feed 24 hours after that horrible day, because they thought it might might make me angry. Who would prefer that I focus my outrage and – say it: retribution – not against those who authored the attacks, but upon those who were afflicted by them.
I will see it because I would like to remember a time when, even though the ashes had been washed off, there were no races. We were all of us, as those TV commercials used to say, American.
I will see it because although I have myself seen the wolf, I do not know that I would have had the same courage as those passengers, who took a fatal risk so that others might live, and seeing it is a way of honoring their sacrifice.
I will see it because if Dave Beamer can take the pain of losing his son, then I probably stand the pain of bearing witness to his son’s courage.
Okay? Let’s roll.