Why We Celebrate on September 11th
By Lisa Suhay
September 11th I am not going to mourn. The television will stay dark so that I wont relive those terrible hours as advertisers make a mint and electronic journalists give award-worthy performances. I am going to buy a bottle of wine, count my blessings and toast my husband on what will be our 14th wedding anniversary.
It may not adhere to the working definition of happy, but it will be a kind of revelry.
Last year I made a very important choice on September 10th. I decided to come home from New York City instead of remaining to see a fellow author and sign more books.
I had been in the city for three days for the launch of my new books and was asked by a colleague to stay just one more day to continue to build publicity.
Sad to say, it wasnt as easy a call as it should have been. I love New York. I was born in Manhattan and lived there for many years. My college internship was at the United Nations where I earnestly dreamed of world peace. Being there is more than business its a homecoming.
But I hadn't seen my husband in three days, or our three sons and I would be coming home late in the day on our anniversary. I wouldnt wake up next to my husband and kiss him happy day. In a moment of clarity I said no to fame and yes to family, a good decision on any given day.
Instead of being within the Ground Zero area I sat in front of the television set in New Jersey holding my husband's hand and sobbing. In those hours I forgot it was our anniversary. It would be nearly midnight before I realized that we were supposed to be going away for a few days. We never went.
The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate. First I wanted to wallow and then I flip-flopped and announced to my husband I never wanted to mark that day again. I wanted to forget the day my hometown was coated in the gray film of death and fear.
As a reporter I interviewed victims families. People called and e-mailed me day and night for weeks asking my assistance in getting the word out about their husband, father, sister, son or daughter who was missing. I sat listening to the hollow voice of a young woman as she described going into labor with her first child upon learning that her husband had perished in one of the towers.
I was so engulfed in the horror that I shoved aside the thought of the desecration of one of the happiest days in my life. After all, would it not be sacrilege to find joy on that day ever again?
My husband had and has a very different view. "September 11th is our day. It was, is and always will be a happy day for us. They can't touch that. They can't have it." He said it all in that understated and menacing way that only a man of peace can when his soul yearns for a good fight.
My husband was right of course. The goal of terror is to take precious things away, be it human life, faith, hope, joy or reason. While they succeeded to a great extent on that day our victory is in how much we can grow back what was cut down.
So I am resolved to shed grief in place of tears September 11th. I invite you to join me. I am willing to share our day and our happy thought with those who have lost theirs.
Here it is: One fine September 11th two people who barely knew each other came together to join their lives and spirits, to build a new life. They did it on faith, love, hope, fear and about $200. It was unlikely to survive, but it has.
This September 11th there are those who cannot celebrate with their spouse or child. Their lives stand brutally interrupted. It is for their sake and ours that we will raise a glass of wine and carry on where they cannot.
Now, if I were a man who was bent on bringing down America and Americans in general I would be thoroughly enraged at the thought that, while I had crumbled the structures and I hadnt managed to touch the foundation.
It is not usually acceptable for a woman to be thinking of two men on her wedding anniversary, but in this case it is almost required.
So now I wish a happy anniversary to the man I love; while to another we have all come to hate I raise my glass and with steely reserve drink a toast to his failure to win the war.