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When New York Had Her Heart Broke (9/11)

I have a friend whose birthday is 9/11. She and I have talked about how odd that is—to never be able to celebrate, as least not in public, the occasion of one’s birth. It becomes almost a secret. I want to tell her that we should never feel ashamed of being born, just as no one should feel ashamed of dying. So, happy birthday to my friend.

There is, however, both nothing and too much that one can say about the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I’ve already given the outlines of my experience of that day in this blog on the occasion of Bin Laden’s death. Saying anything today seems to me to take nerve, but it is probably nerve we need to have.

Philip Metres gives a good account of these conflicting impulses of silence and expression that face us over any such horrific event in his Huff Post article, “The Poetry of 9/11 and Its Aftermath.” His article also includes several poems related to 9/11, including Martín Espada’s beautiful “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100,” which ends with “Music is all we have.”

So for the next few days, I’ll post a song a day related to 9/11 and the dispiriting politics that have followed in the decade since. Just as George Bush squandered the world’s sympathy in his false claims of “weapons of mass destruction” and an ill-advised declaration of war on Iraq, our entire nation has squandered the feeling of brotherly love and egalitarian concern for each other that followed the attacks. Ten years after the 9/11 tragedy, that is a daily sorrow.

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