Tonight I was fortunate to hear Alice Sebold read a portion of the essay published in the NYTimes:
The truth is, none of us knows what the dead do. But on earth, where we remain, the living become the keepers of their memory. This is an awesome and overwhelming responsibility. And it is simple: we must not forget them.
She writes about the dead of Sept 11 and the victims of Katrina and its aftermath and more importantly, what we do with the knowledge of them and their deaths. What can we do with the loss of people we might never know anything about, only that they died?
Whatever it is that comes to you in three months, six months, a year or more, don't turn the page of your book and forget, don't stab the elevator button trying to hurry up the trip. Stop.
These tragedies, it's worth remembering, grant us an opportunity to understand what is perhaps our finest raw material: our humanity. The way we at our best treat one another. The way we listen to one another. The way we grieve.
Go read the whole because it's a keeper. Its simplicity and directness can help all of us.
I hope to spend the day doing normal things. Perhaps some canning of tomatoes. Perhaps a little vacuuming. Perhaps a walk down the nearby lane. I'll call the folks. I'll think about Sept. 11, 2001, the lives lost and the way it changed our lives, yes.
But I think I'll be spending a little time thinking about what's happening in this country and what can be done to effect change. Because there are some bad things happening and it's not at all clear what can be done. Unlike the days of Viet Nam, there are no significant protests about the war or the actions of our government. There seems to be no gathering force to bring about change.
If we cannot spend the day doing normal quiet things, the men who place no value on life, the ones we call terrorists, will have accomplished their goal. But if we do not take back our power as citizens I'm not sure what the future of our country can be.