On Friday I attended the Utah Symphony Orchestra with my wife and parents. The first piece was “On the Transmigration of Souls” by John Adams, written to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attack. I don’t care for modern classical music (unless movie soundtracks count, which for some I reason I don’t think they do…).
The reason we had bought the tickets was for the second piece, Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It was a fantastic performance that had the four of us pretty floored. My dad’s comment was “I don’t know how long it will be before I can stand listening to a recording again” (He has over 10 separate recordings of the 9th). The second movement was particularly well done.
So why am I talking about Beethoven in a post about 9/11? Well, the “Transmigration” piece was pretty effective at communicating fear, grief, confusion, and anger. But there were other responses and emotions during that time besides fear, confusion and anger. In fact, if that was the only response and the only way that we remembered it then the terrorists who carried out the attack will indeed have succeeded in their goal.
Ten years ago I was headed out the door when our neighbor called and told me to turn on the TV. I was in time to see the second tower fall.
There was a lot of fear, and confusion, and even anger. Almost 3,000 people died. But the fear and confusion that I felt does not compare to the hope and pride that I felt as I watched the many selfless acts that followed. I remember almost crying with pride and joy as I watched the New York City streets lined with onlookers cheering on the firefighters, policemen, doctors, and other volunteers as they headed into the chaos. As they did their best to save as many people as they could. As we heard of Flight 93, who gave their lives to thwart their hijackers plans.
Regardless of how politicians have used this event for one purpose or another, or even considering a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Center, what really struck me was the courage and strength of the people of this nation. We live in a time where we talk of the great evils of this world; immorality, drugs, gangs, corrupt governments, greedy corporations–there is almost no end to all the evil things in this world.
I do not like to focus on the negative. These things do exist, and we should not pretend that they don’t. I do believe there is far more in this world that is good. People are better than we think they are. and you know, Beethoven does a pretty good job of capturing some of those emotions and feelings.
“Oh friends, not these tones! Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing And more joyful sounds!”
Perhaps that is why they decided to pair those two pieces together. There was loss and grief and mourning. There was also hope and courage and strength. And that is what I wish to focus on when I remember 9/11. The time when I became proud to be an American.