Although I do agree with Rieff’s assertions that memorials have negative impacts on our society, I see it impossible to try to forget them. It is usually through these hard times, that people become closely bonded. Simply ignoring the reality of these events, entertains the possibility of a weak nation comprised of people who share no kindred. Could there ever be a government (or even a citizen) in such a nation?
At the same time, however, there is also a necessity to view these events with a grain of salt. After 9/11, many innocent immigrants of Indian heritage were often viciously attacked and isolated simply because of a loose similarity (as simple as skin color) to the extremists responsible for the fall of the twin towers. It should be said that this cruelty is also seen in many other occasions, one being the persecution of the Japanese in World War II. Like Rieff, I believe that we lose our rights to democracy once we let ourselves fall victim to the propaganda within memorials because we are compelled to take an act of vengeance to even odds.
Though the clarity of history will often be blurred by influences of different interpretations, the canvas of emotions will always be captured in a memorial. There is no way to comfort someone like Oskar Schell, in Foer’s Incredibly Close & Extremely Loud by telling him that “it never happened.” What Reiff misses is the fact that these events often pull heartstrings that resonate deep within our souls.
Sometimes these strings could vibrate for generations. While it may be true that we are being subliminally bombarded by political mind games, it is also true that we have the option of ignoring these suggestions. This does not take copious amounts of focus; it only takes a shift in how we view things. Instead of the “eye for an eye” style of life, we will be much more productive if we share our pains and seek comfort in the family that America is.