In honor of the 10th anniversary of September 11th, I am re-publishing an edited/slightly altered version of a post from the archives on the importance of commemoration and collective memory for tragedies. The original post was published at IonPsych on May 2nd, the day after Osama Bin Laden’s death. It can be found here.
It has been ten years since September 11th, 2001. When we remember the events of that day, we often tend to focus on how well we remember all of the seemingly-minor details (despite evidence that these memories may not be quite so accurate). What we were wearing. What we ate for breakfast. Where we were sitting while we watched the news coverage.
Our practically-obsessive focus on these memories actually indicates much more than we realize. Despite mankind’s ever-present focus on the wide variety of intercultural differences, it turns out there’s at least one way in which we’re all not so different after all. We all place a tremendous importance on our memories. More specifically, we place a tremendous importance on commemoration.