Eloquence: James Moad of War, Literature & the Arts

“Like most writers, I have a love of symmetry . . . “

from Remembering to Forget, an essay posted on the War, Literature & the Arts blog, September 11, 2011

(While self is writing this post, she’s listening to a reporter standing in front of Ground Zero.  A strapping, good-looking man, whose voice trembles occasionally)

“. . .  the word Genocide . . .  is fraught with complications that make diplomats, politicians, and the international bureaucratic machine grind away into a quiet, churning silence of turned heads and empty back room negotiations —  negotiations that fail more often than not to solve any real problems.”

*     *     *     *

” . . .  take away the oil, and Iraq is simply another country where a despot dreams of being a nuclear player and reigns supreme while the world looks the other way.”

*     *     *     *

“Like most Americans of drinking age, that September day is seared into my subconscious.  As a young commercial pilot back then, I can still remember my own nightmares as I imagined what took place in those cockpits, thinking about an old pilot buddy who’d been murdered there, and more than anything, the feeling of insecurity reverberating out from the rubble of those two towers like great clouds obscuring the future and limiting us, blotting out the imagination necessary to see beyond the anger and destruction.”

*     *     *     *

“. . .  for many Vets and victims of trauma, the memory of pain is what keeps them from healing.  By having them write, draw, or mold their experiences into art, the pain and anger boxed up within them loses part of its destructive character.”

*     *     *     *

After attending a Warrior Writers conference in Philadelphia, Moad takes a bus to New York City:  “I wanted to get back to Manhattan and take in the area around Ground Zero while it’s still being molded and shaped into a business center and memorial.”

Self, too, has been curious about the memorial.  For the longest time and even, occasionally, in the present self felt strongly that the ground should be left un-touched.  That it should be forever a scar on the city, a reminder that the people who died there were not volunteers, not soldiers, but simply people whose last defining act was to go into work, which made the senselessness of the violence even more terrible.  Hubby said that was a crazy idea.  “Don’t you realize, Ground Zero is some of the most expensive real estate in New York.  They’re not just going to let it sit there.”

True.  But, hearing that each of the victims’ names were to be inscribed in bronze, self was still ambivalent.  Perhaps the memorial helps the grieving families.  But now the lives that were lost that day are to be preserved in a tangible memory capsule, as if in old photographs, sepia-tinted.

Self is grateful to Moad because now she can see the memorial, through his eyes.  Here’s his description:

“Rendered beautifully, it is a tribute to the fallen firefighters and police who perished that day, reminding us to never forget their sacrifice.  I wanted to see the space again, be reminded of that great scar on America’s soil, to look out upon the shattered edifices in the heart of Manhattan before it’s all boxed into history and defined, in part, by those who dictate the intersection between memory and space.”

Self holds her grief in private.  In her mind, even this Ground Zero memorial cannot equal in power the stark black wall that is the Vietnam War Memorial designed by Maya Lin in Washington, DC.

Rather than a museum, self thinks, they should have put up two new World Trade Center towers, exactly the same as the old.  Because, as far as 9/11 is concerned, it is better to feel defiance than regret.  Because the new memorial is perhaps a bit too much about a word, patriotism, that feels manipulated.  While people going to work, people simply trying to earn money, are still what America is all about.

Stay tuned.

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