In the Shadow of the Towers


Last month, I took my 11-year-old daughter to see The Devil Wears Prada. She loves anything having to do with fashion design, so I figured that the film--PG-13 rating notwithstanding--would be right up her alley. I guessed right. She loved it.

I, too, came away from our afternoon trip to the movies transported, but in an entirely different way. Shortly before the film began, the two-minute trailer for Oliver Stone's 9/11 epic, World Trade Center, appeared on the screen. Halfway through it, I realized that my eyes were filled with tears.

"Are you crying?" I heard my daughter ask.

I nodded yes.

That a film trailer could emotionally broadside me is not such a big deal. I cry at the movies all the time. What surprised me, though, was that this movie could land with such an impact. Until that moment, I had believed that I'd long ago absorbed the lessons of 9/11, and now carried them with me, both in my work and in my day-to-day life. I genuinely thought I was no longer vulnerable to those devastating images, or the bleak memory of that awful time.

But in the darkened movie theater, I suddenly realized that over the past five years, like millions of Americans, I'd become politicized about 9/11, and had somehow forgotten the true meaning of that day--just the way the President had hoped I would. This made me feel ashamed.

The next day I emailed my editor at USA Today, and asked him if I could write a piece about World Trade Center--about how this country has been led down a path of destruction and distraction since 2001, and how, as a result, many of us have lost touch with what 9/11 was really about. My editor gave me the green light to write the piece.

That essay appeared in USA Today this past Wednesday--the same day World Trade Center premiered across the country. I hope you'll give it a read. I also encourage you to see the movie. As Arianna notes, "the film serves as a reminder of....what has been squandered by the Bush administration in terms of money, lives, and global goodwill."

It is also a beautifully made movie.