« Clueless in D.C. | Main | Beldar will likely vote 'Yes' on Prop 12, but for an odd reason »

Thursday, August 28, 2003


There are those who are cautioning against too much drama and realism in our remembrances as we approach the second anniversary of 9/11.  "Don't rip open the scabs," they say, "We need them to heal!"

They don't understand.  America is not yet in the process of genuine healing from the wounds of 9/11.

We're still undergoing debridement.

From the Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:

Main Entry: de·bride·ment
Pronunciation: di-'brEd-m&nt, dA-, -"mänt, dA-brEd-'män
Function: noun
Etymology: French débridement, from débrider to remove adhesions, literally, to unbridle, from Middle French desbrider, from des- de- + bride bridle, from Middle High German brIdel -- more at BRIDLE
Date: circa 1842
: the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue
- de·bride /di-'brEd, dA-/ transitive verb

Among the most severe pain known to humans is that experienced by third-degree burn victims as they undergo debridement of their blackened, burnt, stinking, crusted, oozing, infection-prone, necrotic skin. 

By definition, their burns have penetrated too deeply into the layers of the skin for the normal scabbing-over and healing processes to work.  Literally cutting away and stripping off the dead skin is the only route to recovery.  So before healthy, functional, ugly scar tissue can form, the rawest of flesh must be completely exposed and scrubbed clean.  Every nerve ending protests its agony; if no precautions are taken, patients have been known to bite through their tongues before passing out, even when heavily anesthetized and sedated.

Don't kid yourselves, folks:    Metaphorically, that's us.  We didn't get a national case of light sunburn.  We had the emotional equivalent of napalm sprayed on us, and the burns were third-degree.  Before we can heal, before those wounds can scar over, we have to finish our debridement.  There's no avoiding it, and ignoring or postponing it only makes it worse.

9/11 was a worse shock than Pearl Harbor.  It killed more Americans than D-Day, and in a fraction of the time.  We still take mournful note of those events each December 7th and June 6th, even those of us who were born well after World War II was over, even more than 50 years after those events.

Within 5 minutes after I watched the second jet hit the second tower, I was on the phone to my ex-wife to make arrangements to pick up our kids from school.  "This is going to be like when JFK was shot," I said.  She and I were first-graders when that happened, just old enough to be among Americans who remember that as a dividing event in our national history — a "where were you when you heard?" moment, a "nothing will ever be the same" moment.

It simply stuns and appalls me that so many have forgotten so much so quickly.  It seems at times that in the minds of most of our French and German and Belgian allies, for instance, 9/11 has already receded to about the same intellectual and emotional status as a really good Hollywood action movie, remembered two years later.  "Oh, yes!  What a show that was, I remember I felt like I was almost a part of it at the time!  Great cinema!  Such special effects!"

And the number of genuinely good Americans who've put back on their blinders — who've willed themselves to forget, and to think we're healed and that all is as it was — is tragic.

Forgetting ...   Is ...   Not ...   ACCEPTABLE!

Once a year, each anniversary — every 9/11 — we desperately need to remember as vividly as possible what happened:   How we felt; how stupidly innocent and trusting we were before; how devastated we were after.    How everything changed, and why — now — we finally "get it." 

Yes, of course it will hurt.  When you're doing debridement, it all hurts — except for the dead part.  Those of us who are still here to feel the hurt owe it to those who aren't — both to those who were killed on that day, and to those who've been killed since then as part of the long and far-from-complete war to avenge 9/11/01 and to prevent any more 9/11s.

And it's the job of the media, all media, to help us remember.


(Hat-tip to an excellent post by susanna of the cut on the bias blog, which was the proximate inspiration I had for writing this post, although I've been thinking these thoughts for some time and will likely have more to say on the subject between now and 9/11/03.)

UPDATE (Sat Aug 30):  michele of a small victory has similar sentiments in a fine post entitled No Ordinary Day, chock-a-block with links and followed by some excellent comments.  (Hat-tip to boswell of American Digest for the link.)

Posted by Beldar at 07:10 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Debridement and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» 9/11 Links from VodkaPundit

Tracked on Sep 11, 2003 1:20:18 AM


The comments to this entry are closed.