Marcos Breton: 10 years later, we need hope and renewal

Published: Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Ididn't lose any family or friends on 9/11, so I suppose it's easy for me to hope that we move beyond the tragedy after today's memorials.

I accept that the terrorist attack has defined American life since it occurred a decade ago, and I'll never pretend it didn't happen.

But as an American, I don't want 9/11 to define the next 10 years.

While remembering the people lost, all I can think to do now is to move forward.

On Friday, the New York Times posted an online graphic asking readers to best describe their emotions on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The choices were angry, fearful, unmoved, secure or hopeful.

I checked hopeful because it beats the alternative on 9/11 or any other day on the calendar. Hopefulness has been too scarce for too long.

My hope was restored a month after the attacks when I traveled to New York to report on the American League divisional series between the Oakland A's and New York Yankees.

The day before the first game, I took the subway as far as I could to lower Manhattan and then walked to ground zero. There were still human remains in the wreckage. There were so many candles on the streets, their little flames extinguished after too many memorials for too many people.

The sights and sounds were overwhelming on that day, and we've spent the last 10 years stumbling and recovering from those images.

I say my hope was restored because I saw people that day who were already rebuilding.

Storefronts had flowers in the windows. Shopkeepers were sweeping their stoops clean. People smiled at me and I smiled back at them, though we couldn't help but wonder what was going to happen in response to the terrorism.

The ensuing years have been a blur of war, bloodshed, financial peril and deepening divisions among Americans warring over ideology.

My community – our community – has been wracked by foreclosures and joblessness.

The enduring symbol of Sacramento – the state Capitol – has rarely been viewed with such disdain. People in my business have lamented what used to be or have been written off.

We have more forms of communication than ever, yet we're so disconnected.

I've had enough.

Today, I want to step out of the shadows of 9/11 and fully embody the New York shopkeepers who set out flowers and swept their storefronts in the shadow of epic human destruction.

I want our present and future to be about reconciliation and renewal in our culture. There has been so much destruction since 9/11 – institutions, icons – nothing and no one has been spared.

We've rebuilt structures in 10 years' time. Now it's time to rebuild our wounded hearts.

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Read more articles by Marcos Breton



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