Once again that time of year for remembering has come around. We pause from our sadness over hurricane Isaac’s devastation to the Gulf, concerns about presidential politics with its promises, rhetoric and posturing, and the bloody civil war in Syria, to remember 9/11. Can it really be 11 years? And what does this year mean to us, individually and as a Nation? We had our 10th anniversary last year, since then we eliminated Osama Bin Laden, the 9/11 memorial opened, and the first major building on Ground Zero is nearing completion. Those of us who are wordsmiths, image-makers, or grievers of lost ones continue on our paths of trying to insure that this doesn’t just become another day.

But it’s “Patriot Day” after all. 9, 11 are just the digits of the day on the calendar. And what the heck does a patriot day mean? It can mean we support our troops or we are willing to die for our country, or we are just good citizens who salute the flag when it’s displayed. The name has totally wiped out the gory, bloody meaning of that horrible day. And that is the purpose of a “euphemism”, to replace words with ones that have a diminished impact; to, in essence, sanitize or change the meaning. So we can read the names in the morning, feel a bit of sorrow, then go on with the rest of the day: shop, work, go to a movie, or watch that new television show (that doesn’t deal with 9/11).   

Another example of how 9/11 has been “sanitized” is the renaming of the Freedom Tower. That name along with it 1776’ height was to be a subtle way of displaying our patriotism, a sort of “giving the finger” to those who would be thinking about raping this nation again. But, thanks to the world of commerce and the “bottom line” (isn’t there a bottom line to everything today?) it was renamed “One World Trade Center”, which was thought to be a better draw for corporate tenants. (heaven forbid that they would have to realize they were looking out onto sacred ground every time they looked out their windows!)

I even feel that the memorial itself is a visual euphemism for what happened on that site that day. Where are any of the items that would bring us back to the tragedy: The lattice façade, the crossbeam cross, the stairwell that remained standing amidst the rubble? In the original call for design entries, inclusion of such objects was a mandatory part of the design specifications. But now we have waterfalls, trees, and sterile concrete walkways!

Do you know of any other euphemisms surrounding 9/11 or Ground Zero? I would love to hear about them.

For more comments, insights and reactions, read my online WTC Journal , it is my ongoing 11 year collection of essays and poetry and photographs about 9/11 and the rebuilding of Ground Zero.

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