Everyone who resided in the NYC metropolitan area on 9/11/01 has his or her own personal story related to their experiences on that cataclysmic day. Mine is recounted here, in my CultureGrrl post for the one-decade anniversary of that terrifying, terrible occasion. My husband is enrolled in the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program, by virtue of his having worked in Lower Manhattan (at the now-defunct American Stock Exchange) in the aftermath of the attack, when people were mistakenly led to believe that it was safe to return to homes and businesses located in the vicinity of that still-toxic site.
As sheer luck would have it, he was safe at home with me in New Jersey on the day of the World Trade Center attack, which we first learned about when our daughter anxiously called on from her high school (where students were not supposed to have cell phones, but many did), to make sure her Dad was home and okay.
For today’s occasion, Washington Post art critic Philip Kennicott re-upped on Twitter his very negative June 2014 appraisal of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which was in sharp contrast to my more sympathetic appraisal on CultureGrrl, which was pegged to my Wall Street Journal piece on the restoration of artworks and artifacts displayed at the museum.
Here’s Kennicott’s take:
Striving for catharsis and epiphany, they have created an oversized pit of self-pity, patriotic self-glorification and voyeurism, where visitors are allowed to feel personally touched by the deaths of people they didn’t know; where they can revel for a few hours in righteous grievance; where they repeat the pieties of our unresolved, pop-psych ideas about death and remembrance and rebirth and renewal. And maybe indulge thoughts of vengeance.
And here’s an excerpt from my blog post, from the perspective of someone who lived through this traumatizing event at relatively close range:
The 9/11 Museum does a superb, sensitive job in documenting the details of that day and its aftermath. It is not nearly as thorough, however, in exploring the event’s important, long-term ramifications, but that may come in the future.
“I think it would have been incredibly presumptuous of us to try to make ‘meaning’ out of that event at this point in time,” [Alice] Greenwald [the museum’s head] told me in an interview. “Our job right now is to be documentary: to say what happened, to be as clear about that as possible, and to pay our respects and pay tribute to the people who were just like us who were killed in this event.”
As I suggested in my [WSJ] piece, nearly every American has a 9/11 touchstone that speaks directly to him. For me, it’s the “Tribute in Light,” as seen each year from my terrace overlooking Manhattan.
I’ll be looking for it again tonight: