Recently on The Root, a post referenced the remembrance of 9/11 as tragedy porn, “On the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, I find myself saying one thing and one thing only: Please stop telling me about Sept. 11,” writes Elon James. I can understand his sentiment fully because I feel the same way when people celebrate certain holidays I don’t care to follow. But I also don’t think you can police a nation’s reaction to an event that changed history in such a drastic way.

Unlike Memorial Day and Labor Day, 9/11 is not a holiday. I also doubt it will ever be one, but it’s a day when thousands of families and officials pay tribute to the lives that were lost that day. These people didn’t die for their country in a war. They were not soldiers sent to combat. They were teachers, accountants, firemen, children and pilots. They started their day just as any normal day, but then the unexpected occurred. It’s not so much that you’re reliving a tragedy, but paying tribute to the thousands of lives that were lost. The families of the victims share a bond that will never be forgotten. Even though it’s been 11 years, the scars are fresh to many people who lost loved ones and the landscape of a city changed. The way our country deals with national security changed. And unfortunately with these changes also brought a sense of fear that occasionally shows itself as prejudice.

I can understand how some people may not want to see or hear about 9/11 memorials, year after year. Yesterday, the news replayed clips from that day, families gave interviews, candles were lit to honor the lost lives and politicians gave speeches. But to call it tragedy porn, is a bit much. Remembering and reliving are two different things. Memorials are not done to relive a horror. Memorials are done to remember. Just as a family member may remember a loved one that passed away by visiting a grave, our country comes together on 9/11 to do it on a larger scale.

People who choose not to ‘remember’ should never forget that you have the option to disconnect for the day. Step away from the internet so you won’t be bombarded with tweets or Facebook updates, turn off your television and don’t listen to the radio, or write a blog about how you’re tired of being forced to relive it all. Thousands of families can never forget the tragedy of that day and no one can tell anyone how to grieve or how much grieving is too much.

What is your opinion on 9/11 memorials? Do you think public memorials and grieving should have be referred to as “tragedy porn”?

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  • JN

    Listen, every 10 years, a generation rises that does not know the history of a tragedy the same way as those who experienced it. My brother was a 1 year old; to him, it will just be something he reads in textbooks. I think for the sake of a younger generation, it would be beneficial to reiterate just so they understand that what happened is still relevant.

  • fancypants

    I live in Memphis, and if thousands of people can come here every year for a WEEK to commemorate Elvis’ death (and he died in 1977), surely we can take a day to remember an event that completely redefined our way of living, thinking and conducting business.

  • I think it’s less the “remembrance” and more the playing of the tapes and the videos and whatnot. Frankly, I saw the buildings fall once; I don’t need to watch it every 12 months. It’s disturbing. And I’m sure it’s not beneficial for the families of those who died to relive it on a national scale every damn year; that’s incredibly unhealthy.

    Furthermore, we do NOT remember 9-11 to honor the dead; most 9-11 ceremonies end up in a bizarre love fest for the military. America is less concerned with those who died on 9-11 and more concerned with the Americans who have died (and are dying) since the attacks. If we didn’t have a “War on Terrorism,” this would have died down by not. 9-11 memorials just make Americans feel better about the never-ending war on brown people (aka, “terrorists”).

    • Angie

      I watched the memorial on TV and over 100 minutes were spent reading and remembering the names of the ones lost 11 years ago. Moments of silence were observed when the planes crashed and the towers fell. I didn’t see any politicians speak or rhetoric about our military. Again, mourning and remembering those people does not mean that I condone the war in Iraq.

  • the comments here are very interesting. i don’t think i disagree with hardly anything anyone has said (so far). i’m a new yorker although i was in jersey on that morning. every year, i have been emotional and tuned in on the 11th of september. the day literally changed my life in so many ways. i didn’t know anyone directly who died but the scars of the event took its toll on me psychologically. my normal paranoia grew much bigger. this year, maybe because i’m not in new york or maybe because i think it’s enough already, i’ve decided to move on. i didn’t dwell on it. i acknowledged and then tried to ignore the day. thankfully, it felt like the morning news shows were on the same page. i’ll see what happens from here…others who are not trying to exploit the event can feel free to mourn or deal the way they like as far as i’m concerned.

  • Rue

    There is a map of the world that I saw on a website while procrastinating. It shows what most college students think of the US (fascist hell) compared to their thoughts on the rest of the world(varying forms of Utopia). It’s a little silly and “broad-brushing”(yes I just made that up) but it interested me nonetheless. See, the US and what we call the Western world have made many tragic contributions to the modern world. Probably most if you tally them up. Yet they have not been alone. Knowing this, it always ticks me off that people conveniently forget this grain of truth when dealing with world history. There are few “perfect victims” in history, i.e. those groups of who can cast a wide net for sins and manage to fall outside it’s snares. It is not Arabs. nor Jews and nor Africans. While all of these groups have been the recipients of horrid tragedies, they perpetrate tragedies themselves. Let us not forget Israel, who in its quest to establish a Jewish state kicked out non-Jews off land they think is rightfully theirs. My point is this: We criticize the US for its colonialism and imperialism and rightfully so. It is “our land” after all and we discipline our children first. But when the arrow is pointed the other way let us not be too hasty to undermine tragedies, and to leap to the defense of “brown people”. Yes most are innocent, I know but yes, some had a hand in killing thousands of people-not just white people either. And let us also not forget that while brown people have a history of being targeted and subjected, the brownest of the brown sometimes treated the darker browns in a way that recipients of this behavior would not soon forget. Ask Maya Angelou. She knows.