The Danger of Focusing on the Past

The anniversary of 9/11.

I slipped onto FOX News this morning and was told that it is important that we "remember the meaning of this day for the rest of our lives" by some very nice looking, but stern, house-motherish anchor.

I grew up in a household where the mother and father both lived through the Depression and where the father fought in WWII and lived through a prison camp experience, a set of circumstances that colored the advice my parents gave to me and the way in which we lived. During the annual July 4th parades in my home town the WWII veterans were out in full force, marching just ahead of the Shriners. Pear Harbor Day by the 70s had become a minor day of remembrance. Noted, but not really invested with solemn meaning. All in all, as I grew up, the idea of "remembrance" was a mixed bag.

And now we sit at the 6th anniversary of 9/11.

It’s still fresh. However, it is slipping into that strange place where one’s reaction to the topic is often, "where were you when you heard"? This is the same place where the assassination of JFK and the death of Elvis sit.

Here in wine country, a number of vintners answer that question by explaining what they were crushing when the planes hit the Towers. At Mayo Family Winery in Glen Ellen it was Sauvignon Blanc. At Frog’s Leap in Napa it was Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. Do we and do the vintners really want to invest these wines with that kind of meaning? Probably not. But after six years, 9/11 is becoming something that has melded into our every day existence and mingles with our every day activities. Hence, there are the 9/11 SBs.

Most of the 9/11 SBs have or soon will be drunk up and gone save for those that are kept in libraries as every good vintner should do with each of the wines they produce. The fact that at least these wines will soon be emptied from our memory and cellars is a good thing. It’s an even better thing that this particular anniversary comes at harvest. Harvest has, at least for me, always been about the prospect of something new, the prospect of something promising, about the future.

There is a danger that comes with living and focusing on the past similar to the danger of not learning from history.


3 Responses

  1. Terry Hughes - September 11, 2007

    Tom, I’ve fumed about this morbid desire to remember — to wallow in — 9/11 in all its misery. It’s exploited by politicians, journalists and anybody who wants us to get our hankies out and…kill terrorists or go shopping, I don’t know what. The messages are truly a mixed bag.
    I was living in Brooklyn, by the harbor, and I could see the whole thing from my window. I knew lots of neighbors who lost students, friends, colleagues, family members. In some cases a great many. Those people can and should mourn on this day.
    The rest of NY wants to get on with it, doesn’t want to wallow or get sentimental. We all carry a private fear and grief. We don’t need any cheap sentimentalizing. And we sure as hell don’t want someone using the event for commercial gain.

  2. Dan Cochran - September 13, 2007

    There’s something vaguely sleazy about using the 9/11 attacks to promote wine. The only lesson I ever took from that day is that we need to keep our eyes open, especially the intelligence services.

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