Thursday, September 11, 2003

National Review Writer Rod Dreher's Reflections on 9/11

In his column at NROnline Dreher notes, in part:

It is, I think, good to be reminded of the tragic sense of life — good, because it reflects the truth, and having that front and center, day and night, helps one guard against blithe optimism, our American temptation. Forewarned is forearmed. Before September 11, I used to marvel at the Twin Towers and the lower Manhattan skyline. The morning sun glinted off the towers, twin diamonds in a crowning achievement of mankind: New York City, the breathtaking palace atop that shining city on the hill that is America. At night, the lights of the towers glittered against the scrim of night, a constellation of our own making. You cannot see the stars at night from New York City, but you didn't have to if you had the Twin Towers.

The last time I saw the towers as they were was one year ago tonight, I had a drink with a friend in the neighborhood, and said goodbye to him at my doorstep, watching him walk away with the towers over his shoulder. I next saw them on fire, and within two hours, saw nothing.

They were there and now they are not: that simple brute fact I still have trouble accepting. Video of the plane crashes and the two collapses doesn't bother me; rather, what I can't take are pre-9/11 images of the World Trade Center. Not long ago, my little niece showed me video of her visit to New York three years ago. At one point, there is a shot with the Twin Towers in the distance. As soon as I saw them there, my chest tightened, tears leapt to my eyes, and I had to leave the room. That video clip was a snapshot from a time and place when we could take things for granted, from a day when the mighty towers were mere background scenery. Of course, we never could, not really; but it was easy in our peace and prosperity, to forget that.

How true, and how very well said.

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