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How ten seconds is worth a million words
Watching, reading and listening to all the ceremonies and interviews surrounding the tenth anniversary of 9-11, for some reason I was reminded of a totally unrelated anecdote.
Back in the 1950s Isabel García Lorca, the sister of the poet and dramatist who was executed by a fascist goon squad at the beginning of Spain's civil war, returned briefly to Spain from exile in the USA, probably trying to locate her brother's remains. When she was in Madrid, she paid a visit of several hours to an old prewar acquaintance, the eminent MD and philosopher, Gregorio Marañon. Afterwards, the doctor's secretary asked him how it had gone. "A very charming lady" Marañon replied, "but she seems to be under the impression that she is the only Spanish woman who lost a brother in our civil war".
This got me thinking about a book I read this summer, Howard Zinne's, "The Bomb", about the incomparable horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and this got me thinking about all the relatives and friends of the estimated million Vietnamese that were killed in America's war in their country and the scores of children that are still being born with grotesque birth defects due to the herbicides we covered the place with. That led me to thinking about the over a thousand Guatemalans that we deliberately infected with syphilis in a 1940s medical experiment.
"Stream of consciousness" being what it is, all of the above started me thinking about my wife's childhood in the ruins of postwar Berlin... the women clearing the wreckage and all the men folk either dead or in prison camps and the survivors eating dogs and cats. Everybody: Japanese, Vietnamese, Guatemalans and Germans seem to have put their tragedies behind them.
I experienced 9-11 at a distance, but the 2004 Madrid bombings, where nearly 200 people were killed occurred quite near me on train lines that I have often ridden in the morning rush hours and people wept and marched and voted a government out of office and a memorial was built and ceremonies were held... and life has moved on. I suppose that is because over the last hundred years or so, Spanish people, like the Japanese, Vietnamese, Guatemalans and Germans, after so much weeping, have learned to dry their tears.
Perhaps instead of such endless self-dramatization, we should learn to do the same... out of respect for all the dead.... everywhere. DS