Psychologist Laments Lackluster 9/11 Memorials


Talented friends had previously come to perform in this ceremony from as far away as Japan, to perform at this and other commemorative events including the Church Center For the United Nations, The Church of Paul and St. Andrew, The New York Buddhist Church, at City Hall Park, at the University Settlement House and in multiple appearances on WOR Radio's Joey Reynolds Show on the eve of 9/11. But in the shadow of the 10th anniversary, such opportunities and invitations have conspicuously not flooded in.

Creating community cohesion.

Research shows that public acknowledgement of a major tragedy helps people heal. I have written extensively about the value of community healing in the wake of disasters, in my new co-edited book, "Living in an Environmentally Traumatized World: Healing Ourselves and Our Planet" (Praeger, 2012). The more a community comes together to assist its members in reconstruction, rebuilding, and resilience, personally and collectively, the more effective and strong both the individual and the group can be. For example, the day after 9/11 people reached out to help their neighbors. I have personally seen this same altruism in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti and China. Similarly, after the recent Japanese tsunami and earthquake, individuals selflessly shared their own meager resources and delivered water, rice balls, and toilets by alternate routes from disrupted roads.

Fostering connection to others.

Research shows connection to others helps healing. At community gatherings, as I written about, people share their grief, comforted n the knowledge that they are not alone.

Today, I wonder, where are my fellow first responders, and family members of the deceased and survivors I shared with so intimately about the sorrow of 9/11. Where is the electrician who drove me home one night, crying with pain over how he felt driving his car unknowingly over body parts? Where is the federal agent I sat with on a stoop under the eerie glow of the lights through the steel structure leaning over the pit, talking about national security? What's happened to the little boy who cried in my arms about not having his daddy play catch with him anymore?

I see some comrades at the World Trade Center Health Program at Mt. Sinai Hospital, that monitors 9/11 responders annually for respiratory illness.

My own tests have revealed suspicious activity in my lung that is being closely watched. Just this past week, I saw a story on the news about yet another responder who died from a 9/11 related illness.

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