Balance tough for Sept. 11 coverage
It won’t be out of disrespect for the victims, their families or the country during the anniversary week of Sept. 11. I’ll pray for them, and for us. I may even join the ceremonies Wednesday at the Ford Amphitheater.
We’ve long since returned to “normal” living, and perhaps too blithely out here so far from Ground Zero. Fire and drought, and we all hope lots of snow and skiing to come – these things have far more immediate daily impact on our lives than what the terrorists have managed.
Still, there remains a shadow, a flicker we hadn’t quite noticed before. Our world indeed has changed, subtly and profoundly at the same time. Even so, and even involving war we’re hard at work burying the event while this week we pick at the scab in a rather determined effort to bleed some more.
Perhaps this rubs at why I’m backing away. God bless us, we’ve got a flair for reveling in our tragedies, maybe because they are so few compared to more routinely horrific parts of humanity.
It does strike me as all too much. Remembrance, sober reflection, the atmosphere of prayer – that’s where I’m at personally. I’m just not willing to wallow in it all.
But the news media can’t help but go to town with this anniversary. I think I understand that, too. It seems that doing nothing, or too little, shows disrespect, as if Sept. 11 weren’t now among our most significant dates in history.
So we collectively take a safer route of risking going overboard. In the name of completeness, of recognizing the date of infamy, of making sure the victims are properly saluted and grieved, sensationalism and oversaturization are low prices to pay.
And so striking perfect pitch of taking stock, honoring without overdoing it and getting just the right perspective is very elusive at this anniversary.
The Daily will focus on Sept. 11 this week, too, taking this moment to look at the everyday heroes in our valley who we tend to take for granted – our emergency services professionals. These are people who are always there when we need them, at times to great sacrifice to their personal lives, though in less spectacular fashion than their compatriots in Manhattan. We know our firefighters, police, paramedics, search and rescue personnel would be just as selfless and brave. This seems like a teachable moment to catch a glimpse of their lives and extraordinary value to our society.
So through the week, we’re bringing Sept. 11 front and center, with local and the wider coverage. Yes, I’m ambivalent about that. My personal sense is that the American journalism this week will add up to altogether too much.
As a nation, we’ve moved on from the planes and the falling towers, at least until the next terrorist blow. They took out buildings and 3,000 innocent lives on purpose. We’ve liberated a country, while trying to almost surgically hit the military targets and avoid killing innocents, and we’re making noise about the next country on the list.
But the bad guys aren’t done, at least if they can help it. Maybe this realization also plays a part in my wariness about commemorations while still in the thick of events. We may yet have more dates of infamy to endure.
I believe the terrorists ultimately can only strengthen our resolve to route them and end their subterranean reign. They’ve already paid dearly for their mistake in coming after us as they did. I also believe they fundamentally do not grasp this, and so will continue to try to inflict as much pain and damage on America as they possibly can.
I want to think that while sadder and more determined to make the world a safer place for us, we citizens have taken more of an interest in how the rest of humanity lives and where we can help.
But we’ve long since tucked away our Stars and Stripes, and our sense of civic responsibility is still flagging. We can barely stir ourselves to pay attention to what’s happening in our own communities, never mind the world outside our cocoon.
We are not a subtle people given to puzzling out nuances. So maybe this week’s saturation coverage of Sept. 11 is just the jolt we need to see past our own noses, even if only for a moment.
Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or at firstname.lastname@example.org