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The Hatred That Killed Them


Another 9/11 commemoration. For the 16th time, families of victims read out the solemn, moving, unceasing names, and wept at the still-raw names of their loved ones. For the 16th time, the righteous cry rang out to "Never Forget." Yes: Let us never forget those almost 3,000 lives lost in the senseless name of hate and divisiveness. Let us also never forget: That Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11;  that the unholy war that followed was based on lies, fear, greed, ineptitude and imperial delusion more alive than ever in our current monster of a president; that the war's crimes and carnage still haunt, hurt and divide us; that many thousands of its victims, from the Twin Towers to Mosul, were brown-skinned, and much like those now under siege by the same hatred that brought down the Towers.

Striking among Monday's slow, mournful roll-call were the names of those lost. They are American names: Alok Agarwal, Shabbir Ahmed, Alicia Acevedo Carranza, Syed Abdul Fatha, Rose Gonzalez, Nezam Hafiz, Jan Maciejewski, Takashi Makimoto, Alejo Perez, Howard Reich, Joseph Vincent Vigiano, Yuguang Zheng. Muslims, Asians, Latinas, Africans, daughters, fathers, cooks, immigrants with or without legal redress but doing their jobs. In the grim aftermath, victims' relatives say, "People moved through (it) by doing things for other people," by finding kindness and community. In February, some protested Trump's Muslim ban - on seven countries that had nothing to do with 9/11. From one whose mother died in the attacks, "We’re here to say, 'Stop using our loved ones to justify the same type of hatred that killed them.'" The step-daughter of a firefighter killed mused on "what that sacrifice was for." It wasn't, she said, about "more fear, more security, more disruption, more war, more violence. It was the opposite. It was about how we show up for each other as Americans."

From Maine's Poet Laureate Stu Kestenbaum, whose brother Howard died in the attacks.

Grief Arrives In Its Own Time

It doesn’t announce itself or knock
on the door of your heart. Suddenly it’s right behind you, looking with great pity at the back of your neck and your shoulders on which it spends days placing a burden and lifting it. Grief arrives in its own sweet time, sweet because it lets you know that you are alive, time because what you are holding becomes the only day there is: the sun stops moving, the sky grows utterly quiet and impossibly blue. Behind the blue are the stars we can’t see and beyond the stars either dark or light, both of which are endless.

from Prayers and Run-On Sentences (Deerbrook Editions)

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