Please Leave Your Selfie Stick At Home
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Please Leave Your Selfie Stick At Home

Please think twice before taking a selfie at Ground Zero.

Please Leave Your Selfie Stick At Home
Allison Miller

This past September, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I was assigned to go downtown to the memorial for one of my classes. A group of us went together, and what we experienced there shocked us all.

Although I was only three-and-a-half years old at the time of the attacks, my older sister was among the people working downtown that morning in 2001, and my brother worked in the vicinity as well; my siblings are blessed enough to say they are survivors of that day, but I knew this excursion was going to be emotional for me, regardless. However, upon arriving, I was appalled when I looked around and didn't see everyone silently and reverently standing at the memory pools as I had expected, but teenagers with selfie sticks posing for pictures with their friends, as if this was just another stop on a nice trip into Manhattan. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. My friends, as well as the older people there to lay flowers on the graves of their loved ones--for a birthday or in honor of the anniversary-- kept turning around, shaking their heads at what they were witnessing; perhaps what was even worse was that no one said anything.

The generational gap was very apparent that day. What I witnessed I found to be offensive and distasteful. It was being treated more like a tourist attraction than as hallowed ground to memorialize the over 3,000 people that unwillingly lost their lives for our country. Yes, the 9/11 Memorial is a landmark of NYC now that its finished, but its not the same as the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. Rather than being designed as a commercial hub, it was built to remember and revere those whose lives were lost and to serve as a memorial to those who came to their rescue in the true spirit of America. This being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures—if this were the case, then there would be signs posted all over Ground Zero to enforce this. The idea of taking out a selfie stick, using the memorial as the background of your “cityscape” picture, however, is where things can get disrespectful and lose their touch very quickly. Would a person do the same thing in the Holocaust Museum, another landmark to commemorate the millions of lives claimed by an atrocity? Chances are they wouldn’t, and understandably so. If people are aware and reverent there, what makes the 9/11 Memorial any different, other than the fact that it is placed directly outside in the thick of Manhattan traffic?

Unfortunately, the blame doesn’t fall on the younger generation, but on ourselves and the climate that they’re being raised in. Teaching the events of 9/11 as a one day lesson in a classroom is not enough. It's not as simple as that. People lost husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children that day. Even those that survived lost something— their peace of mind in doing something as simple as going to work. September 11, 2001 should not only be remembered on its anniversary or taught for 30 minutes from a textbook. Especially in today’s political climate, we need to remember that time as a one in which we were united and stood strong as a nation— something we should all be cognizant of no matter what day of the year it is.

As for the selfie stick situation, we (unfortunately) live in an age in which all of our moments are paralyzed and posted on social media, for all of our “friends” to see online. I understand the attraction of wanting to remember every moment— if we have the means to do so, then why not? But please, if you want to take a picture while you’re there, be respectful and really take a second to reflect on what you’re experiencing. Do everyone a favor and think before you whip out the selfie stick, because our country and its history is so much more than a superficial post on social media.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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