Although my 9/11 story is not that memorable, that day has been etched in my mind ever since. I also will never forget my first up close view of Ground Zero a week or so after 9/11, when the "frozen zone" that kept most out began to shrink. Standing on Broadway and looking west I could see the smoking twisted facade 5 WTC and its ground level storefronts and behind it the skeleton frame of the burned out twin towers.
I have made an effort to stop at Ground Zero every 9/11 since. While today's observances within Ground Zero -- the slow, monotonous reading of names, and the sad, elegiac music -- was as touching as ever, the scene outside of Ground Zero was rather pathetic. Black t-shirted conspiracy theorists outnumbered observers. One guy handed me an 11 dollar bill (with Bush's face on it - haha) listing about 20 or so websites all promising to tell the "real truth" about 9/11. As opposed to prior years, most "regular people" were simply on they way to work, treating the commemorations as a curiosity, or worse, as an inconvenience.
I guess the scene I saw today is sort of a metaphor to the way 9/11 is slowly turning into vastly different events for different people. There is the 9/11 that is the private "yahrtzeit" for so many family and friends of those who lost their lives. Then there is the 9/11 of the nutjobs of the left and right, an event to be used as a bludgeon against their favored political enemies, whether it's Clinton, Bush, the UN, or the Jews. And, sadly, there is the 9/11 for most Americans -- one that lives on as a hazy memory long in the past that is fit for dramatization as a Major Motion Picture, or a cheesy movie of the week.