Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 9:40 pm | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Diane Dimond: 9/11 an Unforgettable and Painful Anniversary

Let us remember, but without the televised overload of the country's worst terrorist attack

As anyone who hasn’t been living on the moon knows, the 10th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks is fast approaching. I, for one, don’t want to hear about it. I really just want to stay in bed all day and bury my head under a pillow.

That doesn’t mean I won’t commemorate the anniversary — because I most definitely and painfully will. But the media drumbeat toward the date has already begun, and it has put a pit in my stomach the size of a grapefruit.

There are at least 40 TV specials planned during the next few weeks leading up to the awful date of Sept. 11. Each of the top three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — has a big boffo special planned, plus extra coverage on their early morning and evening news programs. CNN has no fewer than four documentaries on the 9/11 attacks scheduled. The National Geographic Channel plans to devote a full week to its coverage. Countless other cable channels have their own 9/11 plans. And, of course, just wait till you see the onslaught of coverage from your local news stations. I predict it will be nonstop as the date approaches.

Overload, in my book. Exploitation of an American tragedy, some might say.

I don’t plan to watch any of the televised rehash of that awful day because it remains too raw and painful for me.

Ten years ago, my much-loved mother-in-law, Beverly Schoen, had just died, and we had held her memorial on Sept. 9 in Florida. Late on Sept. 10, 2001, my husband and I flew back to our home in New York — just 20 miles north of Manhattan.

The next morning, we woke up late and flipped on the television. As we stood slack-jawed in front of the television, my whole world changed in an instant. Hugging each other tightly, we watched the turmoil and confusion that played out in front of us — live. We followed every development through tears of riveted attention.

Both my husband and I, veteran working news reporters who are used to calamity and chaos, had no idea what was really happening or why. One plane might accidentally fly into a tall building, we said to each other, but not two planes. My husband, who had covered the 1991 Persian Gulf War in Kuwait for CBS News, understood before I did that this was a blatant act of terrorism against America.

We watched the burning planes ignite the strong, proud towers, never imagining they might collapse. We watched as fearless firefighters ran toward, not away, from the inferno. We were horrified to see fellow Americans trapped inside the mammoth buildings choosing to jump from blazing windows rather than face incineration. The revulsion I felt watching the first — and then ultimately the second tower — slowly fall and disintegrate into a choking cloud of dust is still as vivid and disturbing to me today as when it first happened.

The stark reality of watching zombie-like survivors prowling the perimeter of the rubble holding up pictures of their missing loved ones haunts me to this day. They had fruitless hope, but the rest of us knew there was no chance they would find their brother, sister, son, daughter, father or mother. Every soul inside was gone.

It was the worst attack on American soil in recent history. And my whole world changed that day. I no longer felt that America was the safest country on the planet. I could no longer rely on any of my preconceived notions about security and our country’s standing in the world.

I have felt perpetually vulnerable since Sept. 11, 2001. Over the years, I’ve noticed my buried indignation begins to simmer when I’m asked to surrender my identification to get into a building or when I go through an airport security line and a stern-looking fellow American looks suspiciously at every aspect of my being.

There are far fewer smiles these days and almost no idle conversation among strangers, and everyone seems so distrustful. I lament the explosion of security cameras I see snapping my picture nearly everywhere I go. I understand why it must be this way now, but it pains me to know the carefree America I grew up in is gone.

It all began to change on Sept. 11, 2001.

Now, the very idea of watching a replay of the country’s worst terrorist attack on any one of the 40 upcoming TV specials seems far more than pointless. It seems barbarically sadistic.

Like a lot of Americans, I still carry the scab from the terrorists’ mortal wound to my country. My tears still flow at the memory of that day and the immediate aftermath. It all feels so fresh in my soul that I do not need a televised reminder of what happened, who did it or what it all means.

On Sept. 11, I will stay in bed with my pillow over my head for a few extra minutes and silently, reverently remember the anniversary in my own way. I will not turn on the television.

Diane Dimond is the author of Cirque Du Salahi: Be Careful Who You Trust. Click here for more information. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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