Taking a Moment to Pause and Reflect 2022

Try to remember the kind of September

When life was slow and oh, so mellow.

Try to remember the kind of September

When grass was green and grain was yellow.

“Try to Remember,” from The Fantasticks.

It feels surreal that it has been 21 years. Time passes. We say that we would never forget, but I wonder if we learned anything. If September 11, 2001, was a nightmare, we somehow came together on September 12, 2001, if my memory isn’t so hazy to recall the attempts to help each other.

But, I fear about whether we really can overcome hate and fear, as we the people of this nation are as divided as ever.

21 years ago, I was trying to figure out how to make any use of my last year in law school, and then that Tuesday happened. I didn’t imagine the entirely different landscape that we’ve had since. I never imagined that all the crises and calamities we’d be through.

This morning, I watched some of the commemoration. I still feel profoundly sad for those who never came home that day, when they were civilians – just people who might have gone to work early to go vote that morning, a beautiful, blue sky of a Tuesday, when we had our primary elections for local political offices. We’re talking about just ordinary New York metro area people who were part of what made downtown Manhattan so vibrant. They were part of that odd idea that the World Trade Center embodied – that through world trade (i.e., capitalism), we could have world peace.

Maybe my cynicism gets to me. Have we done enough for the survivors, the people who worked and lived in downtown Manhattan? What about all these terrible medical conditions that arose because of how toxic Ground Zero was? What about how we didn’t know or want to know what was in the dust that littered Manhattan into southern Brooklyn? How do we stop being a**holes to each other, because aren’t we supposed to work together to overcome all the problems? I’m asking entirely rhetorical questions, of course.

This morning, our local television stations covered the commemoration at the World Trade Center. I’ll share this September 5, 2022, post by Bill Ritter, the anchor of Eyewitness News of WABC Channel 7, as he noted:

I’ve been thinking a lot about that part of the September 11th story, as we approach the 21st anniversary of that horrible day. And I’ve been thinking about how divided so much of this country is now, and I — along with many others — am trying to figure out how that happened in relatively such a short period of time.

We can debate the foundational answer to all that — and we should — as we try to figure out how to stop the hate that infects so many people, and re-visit and re-light the sense of community that sparked the peaceful coagulation of this country 21 years ago.

For our coverage of the 9/11 memorial in the week leading up to it, I recently interviewed former New York Governor George Pataki, a lifelong Republican who has thought a lot about how we have become so divided, and how his own party has become polarized, with some of them so filled with hate.

There are, of course, many like the former governor, who favor discussion rather than rants, problem-solving dialogue instead of diatribes. But their voices are typically not the loudest.

There is also what President Joe Biden observed during his speech at the Pentagon this morning, as part of the commemoration:

It’s not enough to stand up for democracy once a year or every now and then. It’s something we have to do every single day. So this is a day not only to remember, but a day of renewal and resolve for each and every American.”

Pres. Joe Biden, September 11, 2022, per report by Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Jeffery C. Mays, NY Times.

Just a few days ago, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom passed away, at the age of 96, as the longest-reigning monarch of the UK. Regardless at this moment of how one may feel about monarchy, our planet’s entering a transition. I think that we can learn a lot from Queen Elizabeth II about commitment to duty and service, and even believing in commitment – and maybe those are the very reasons why we have admired her, putting aside our discomfort with monarchy and love of celebrity.

For the observation of today, I liked how this report over at the NY Times reminded how, two days after September 11, 2001, Queen Elizabeth II handled her demonstration of alliance:

Two days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Elizabeth ordered a military band to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, one of the most popular and visible public displays of British tradition.

“Tourists and British onlookers stood silent, grasping American flags and weeping,” The New York Times reported at the time. [….]

Last year, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks, the queen again ordered the United States’ anthem to be played as the guard changed. In a message to President Biden, Queen Elizabeth II said at the time that her thoughts and prayers — “and those of my family and the entire nation” — were with the victims, survivors, families and rescue workers affected by the attacks.

Photo I had taken some years ago, at the Brooklyn Promenade.

Last year, FC shared this over on Facebook, so I’m passing it along again: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day (Cover by First to Eleven).

See here for last year’s post, of the 20th anniversary of a day that we cannot forget. I wish you all a peaceful and thoughtful day. Thanks again for being here. — ssw15

The Tragedy of June 19, 1982

I may be a day late in posting this, but the time for reflection is a never-ending one, really: it’s 40 years since the death of Vincent Chin.

See here for Emil Guillermo’s perspective, posted June 16, 2022, on the hate crime that had occurred, and how we can reflect. There are no easy answers.

I’ve proposed for the last eight years a national period of meditation each and every year between June 19 to June 23 to ask ourselves some basic questions. Questions like, “What does it mean to be an Asian American today?” / “What does it take to stand up for a sense of ourselves?” / “Our community? Our personal and public identity?” / “What does real equality, real justice mean today?” Those are the things worth thinking about now and in the future.

Emil Guillermo

Guillermo ponders on what is justice, if those who commit the crime don’t take responsibility or don’t show remorse? What is a hate crime, if the intent by the person who commits the crime leads to no admission and no reparation?

Guillermo further notes:

No one has to hear from the killer ever. Apology? There’s no there there. / But every year, it’s important for all Asian Americans, past, present, and future, to pause and reflect on what happened on those five days, starting on June 19th and ending on June 23rd, when we awake, inspired to take action, moved by the memory of Vincent Chin.

The further reality is that, during the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate persists and reminds us that the perpetual foreigner trope persists, and so we keep struggling somehow for what is better, what does it mean to be American, what is equality, and what is justice.

So, yes, Guillermo’s questions are very real.

Significantly, in the 40 years since Vincent Chin’s death, the needs for solidarity and dialog and work persist too. See for more on the struggle of against anti-Asian hate: “Remembering Vincent Chin — and the deep roots of anti-Asian violence,” by Li Zhou, June 19, 2022, over at Vox. Zhou reports:

Overall, activists note that while the causes of anti-Asian discrimination are enduring and as tenacious today as in the 1980s, thanks to continued activism, awareness about these biases has also increased and improved significantly. Continuing to grow this understanding, and maintaining the willingness to fight back against it, is central to moving forward, they say.

As a closing note to pass along: Triscribe’s own FC shared, via Facebook, the link to the Vincent Chin 40th Remembrance and Rededication. I hope that I can check out videos of the remembrance later, but there’s also a guide to consider as well.

Remember to take care of yourself too, as the struggle is real and can be tiring. Keep learning and keep trying. — ssw15