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The Periodic Polemic

Polemic for 1 October 2001

On Editing Out the World Trade Center

The world witnessed a terrible tragedy on September 11, 2001. We saw, as they happened, acts of terrorism carried out on television. Several hours after the World Trade Center towers had been hit, they collapsed.

They are no longer part of the Manhattan skyline.

This terrible tragedy resulted in many ad campaigns that involved images of those buildings to be pulled. That I can understand. It's disrespectful to use those images in ads during such a time of awful loss.

But the editing-out of the World Trade Center towers went further than that. Television shows and movies with scenes of the WTC buildings had those scenes cut or digitally altered to take out those buildings. Why? I suppose that was done out of sensitivity to those who suffered losses in that attack, but isn't it possible noting their absence is just as hard on the survivors and those who lost as noting their former presence?

I lost my son, Jarom, a few months ago, just over two months before the WTC attack. Jarom's the kid with the wild static-charged hair on the main page of the website, telling you what's new. I can tell you seeing him and not seeing him are equally hard to bear. I just have to get used to the change. I don't like talking about the moment or circumstances of his passing over, but I know I have to go through with seeing his picture here and there and not seeing his face or hearing his footsteps the way I used to.

Yet life goes on for those still living. I keep his picture by my bedside and on my computer wallpaper. I keep his pictures online. I come across his favorite toy or video from time to time. In all those cases, I don't know if that reminder from the past about what no longer lives in my home will bring a smile or a tear. Often, it brings both. I can't get over his loss, I can only get used to it.

It's the same with the World Trade Center. Seeing the old skyline or the new one is going to be equally hard for everyone affected by that day. People will look at those images and be reminded of the loss by seeing how it used to be or how it isn't that way anymore. Taking images of the WTC and flushing them all down the memory hole won't ease the pain or show greater respect. Everyone has to get used to the changes in their own way and move on with their lives.

For everyone who lost someone or something that day, you've gone through an awful change. I hope and pray for you, that you can find your way through all the pain and sorrow, through that cold touch of death and the empty pit of anxeity, and find acceptance of your loss on the other side. It won't be easy. I know. Some days will be harder than others. Just let yourself cry when you need to and you'll be able to smile when you want to.

Dean Webb

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