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9/11 column - feedback wanted

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by forever_town, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    In the days leading up to the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, tributes toward and speeches about that tragedy are likely to be heard and forgotten. American society talks a big game when it comes to remembering tragedy, but do we really remember?
    It’s not enough to recall where you were when two jets hit the World Trade Center. It’s not enough to recount stories of frantic calls to and from loved ones. An anniversary of such a cataclysmic event needs to prompt soul-searching.
    How did our lives change in the immediate aftermath of the attacks that brought down the two towers in New York? What happened in the wake of the damage to the Pentagon? What about the site in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed?
    Alan Jackson’s song “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” had lyrics that mentioned turning off “that violent old movie you’re watching and turn[ing] on I Love Lucy reruns.” However, we’re still watching violent movies, old and new.
    Obviously, last year was the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Under normal circumstances, there would be more symbolism then compared to this year. However, all that changed on April 16 when 32 people’s lives were snuffed out in Virginia Tech. That tragedy still has fresh wounds, especially when people returned to the Blacksburg, Va. campus – and to Norris Hall, the scene of much of the carnage.
    There was plenty of attention paid to Virginia Tech when classes began in the first semester after Seung-Hui Cho killed his victims before turning the gun on himself. The Virginia Tech massacre had ripple effects on this county. A press conference scheduled for April 17 to deal with the Dimensions Health Care System crisis was cancelled as a result of the shooting.
    Beyond that, Progressive Christian Academy’s Augustus Gilchrist, a Prince George’s County native, backed out of his commitment to play basketball at Virginia Tech. Gilchrist didn’t say whether he made his decision based on the attacks, but he originally decided to attend in spite of the tragedy.
    However, Van Whitfield, Gilchrist’s high school coach, said in a press release that Gilchrist’s decision was a reaction to the massacre.
    What lessons can we learn from tragedies such as these that we can take with us beyond the raw pain we felt? It’s not living our lives in fear. It’s not allowing our governments to take away our civil liberties under the guise of protecting safety. Both would allow the our enemies – terrorists, gunmen and fear itself – to win.
    Our nation came together as united as it’s ever been after the terrorist attacks nearly six years ago. Racial, gender and political lines meant nothing. Immigrant backgrounds also meant little. For a while, people around the world grieved with Americans. No matter how much anyone previously said they “hated” New York, they realized that true hatred fueled the jets into the buildings and into that Pennsylvania field.
    This year, Virginia Tech paraphernalia flew off the shelves of sporting good stores throughout the region. Many people had logos of their schools combined with Virginia Tech logos as MySpace or Facebook photos. Some of those icons had the saying, “Today, we are all Hokies” underneath.
    It was a great statement of unity. Sadly, if history is our guide, our world “will little note, nor long remember” what we said or did, to quote Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
    How many times will we have to live through tragedy before we finally apply the lessons we say we’ve learned? Again, Bob Dylan had it right: The answer is blowin’ in the wind. I don't know if we ever will.
  2. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Town,

    Okay. I'll admit it. I read this three times and I don't have any idea what point or points you were trying to make.

    FWIW I hate rhetorical questions in any sort of piece, more so in shorter pieces.

    YHS, etc
  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Hi forever,

    Thanks for posting. Sorry it took so long to get some feedback, but the Workshop faculty and staff have been on a Labor Day retreat.

    That said, I have to agree with FotF - the essay lacks focus. I'm not sure what your central point is meant to be, so offering mechanical criticism at this point wouldn't be helpful. Rather, I'd ask you to think very hard about what it is you're trying to say here. If that's a parallel between VT and 9/11, that's fine, there's a way to do that, I think. But that has to be decided before we move on to the next step.

    Also, the Lincoln quote comes, I believe, from the Gettysburg Address.

    Again, thank you for sharing your work with us.
  4. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    There is no specificity here, no reporting. Without either, no reason to read. It just...goes...on.

    If you are going to write about events like 9/11 or Virginia Tech, do not trivialize them with knee jerk responses that may not be true, such as "Racial, gender and political lines meant nothing." Really? A lot of people wrote stuff like that at the time, but those are exactly the kinds of statements that need to be examined closely and tested with facts.
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