At a party this weekend, I was standing in a room with a wall that displayed a picture of the New York City skyline, pre-September 11th. Obviously, this included the massive Twin Towers that dominated the landscape before that fated moment that would forever change our “perception” of the world. While I stood there, several of my friends commented on the horrible feelings that were provoked by that poster and on how she should take it down. Of course, as a part of my quite loquacious nature, I felt obliged to retort, and rather adversely at that. I simply expressed my opinion that the memory of the Twin Towers and their function as part of the symbolic representation of our nation’s strength, power, and prestige should be maintained — and how else can that be done other than through visual representation?
There is a fine line between reverence and remembrance; and while in the days directly following the attacks it may have been sensitive to shelter the American public from visions of a once erect structure, we must now begin to perceive these visions with a sense of nostalgia, remembrance, and hope. If we extinguish these visions altogether, the memory will only exist in each individual’s mind.
I must applaud this season’s series of The Real World. While it was filmed in New York in recent months, the producers decided to include a disclaimer that conveyed their decision to maintain images of the Twin Towers despite the recent tragedy. While many newly released movies detained their premiers and even altered scenes to accommodate recent conditions, this MTV series decided to preserve the memory of the Towers by making them clearly visible.
In a recent article in Saturday’s New York Times, memories were compared to epidemics, ones that both spread quickly and ones that quickly fade and die. Although the memory of the World Trade Center is far from being extinguished, how long do we really think all the hype that is surrounding the disaster is going to be maintained? Will America slowly, but inevitably, return to its catatonic state of self-import, or will the recent musical tributes proliferate and the current patriotic fashion trends remain in style?
Although I believe that these catastrophic events have forever altered the state of American society, I also believe that their novelty will eventually wane. That is why, despite the recurring images on CNN and other media networks, despite the numerous tributes, fundraisers, and clothing sales, the actual images of the Twin Towers should not be expunged from photographs, movies, or television shows. The sale of pins, t-shirts, and even designer red, white, and blue apparel (which, according to Vogue, is the resulting trend in fashion lines) is remarkable. This serves to revere our nation, honor those who both perished and survived, and unify our country. Nevertheless, through this method, the notion of remembrance is only short-term. Thus, the fine line between reverence and remembrance can be maintained only by memorializing — by, according to Saturday’s New York Times, “leaving part of the mess, part of the argument.”
From my perspective, part of the past should be maintained as well. Only by maintaining subtle reminders of our loss in our daily lives can this fine line be rendered. Therefore, films that were supposed to be released in which visions of the buildings were present should be debuted, new videos and DVDs with visions of the past should be stocked in stores, and photographs such as the one hanging in my friend’s bedroom should remain. The skyline of the city may be ravaged, yet the implicit memory of its existence should be tacitly preserved.
Archived article by Barbara Seigel