When I heard that the IOC wouldn’t let the U.S. delegation carry the World Trade Center flag in the athlete’s parade, I agreed. It didn’t seem right to carry that symbol of tragedy and community to be used as some sort of good luck totem for a team of athletes who’d be hamming it up for the cameras and videotaping each other and the crowd.
But when the compromise was reached to carry in the flag for the flag raising to open the opening ceremony, I was hopeful that the proper sense of respect would be possible.
I know there are some who would say there is no place for a remembrance of a U.S. tragedy at an international event. But it wasn’t a U.S. tragedy. In fact, it may have made more sense to have representative athletes from some of the other affected nations take part.
When the time came, the flag was carried with solemnity into the stadium. It was a moment of silence unlike any requested, announced, staged moment of silence. It was moving without being maudlin. It was a moment of respect and remembrance that took nothing from the occasion of celebration that followed.
Which brings me to the few voices I’ve heard raised in the past few days who’ve decided there should be no more organized public tributes. These are apparently people who think it’s time for closure. I have a news flash for them. There is no such thing as closure. There is no magic moment when we’ll no longer have a hole in our hearts, our families, our communities, our skyline.
The holes will always be there. There will always be thousands of childrem who are without one or both of their parents. There is no closure for an orphan. There will always be thousands of men and women carrying on without the person they promised to love until death parted them. When death does part you, you find no closure. There will always be thousands of parents who will not see their children continue to grow. No matter how old the child, the parent is always the parent. And those parents will never have closure.
The best they and we can all hope for it to find peace. Peace of mind, knowing they and we have done everything possible to provide for those left behind. Peace at heart when time and distance temper the pain and allow the memories of shared lives to overcome the sorrow. Peace. Imagine, true peace.
There will be no closure. But someday there may be peace. Until then, we will continue to commemorate, to remember, because we cannot ever forget.