Looking at the image below that I made five years ago today, I gotta admit I’m a bit embarrassed by it now — and I’m a bit ashamed about being embarrassed. But still, the graphic clearly hasn’t aged well. Hell, it jumped the shark about a week later, two on the outside.
Sure, I could argue that the sentiments that welled up in me as the horrific events of September 11 unfolded are there; my love of country and sturdy belief that even in the midst of such an unimaginable chaos and all-enveloping evil our spirit would come shining through, but I wouldn’t be able to argue that the foundation those feelings are anchored in hasn’t been weakened in the five years that have passed. All the more reason perhaps why I see that picture so harshly now.
With so much and so little that’s changed, I look upon that image now and while the heartbreak that produced it is undeniably sincere, the result grows increasingly quaint and hokey with each passing year. It looks like something you’d find embroidered on a pillow for $9.98 in a Harriet Carter catalog. Buy one, get one free.
The backstory provides me with some consolation. I built this image that afternoon via laptop while waiting more than six hours with hundreds of other Angelenos to give blood at a mobile donation center the Red Cross had set up on Ventura Boulevard at the Holiday Inn in Woodland Hills. Fear, love, hate, sorrow and doubt ran very high there that day (that story’s here).
As they do today. Speaking of which, as I’ve done the past three anniversaries, at some point this afternoon I’m going to bike over to the World Trade Center Memorial on Stadium Way in Elysian Park. I’ll stand before the column remnant there and bow my head in memory of all who perished in New York and at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Penn. From my backpack will be flying a small American flag. An old-fashioned one with stars, not hearts.