There is a melody to national tragedy, to national grieving. It starts with shock, segues to fear and anger, crescendos with memorials and tributes, then codas into vows to never forget. The notes are similar from one rendition to the next, but the tempo, the distance from beginning to end, is never exactly the same. And it’s the rhythm, the speed, that’s the true measure of a country’s psyche.
Lately, Americans have been playing a quickened, shortened tune.
We were transfixed for months after Oklahoma City and 9/11, for weeks after the Boston Marathon, and more like days after San Bernadino. We watched the Columbine memorial services live, knew the faces of the Newtown children, but probably can’t name the victims of Sutherland Springs. The nation paid the family of each 9/11 victim $3.1 million; those injured in Orlando and Las Vegas started GoFundMe accounts, and many struggle to pay their medical bills.
“It’s like it never happened,” wrote Amanda Getchell in the Washington Post last week of her life after she fled the fusillade of bullets from the Mandalay Hotel. “My phone stopped ringing with concerned calls and text messages. … The mourning lasted a day, and then everyone forgot about what happened in Las Vegas.”
And in lower Manhattan, not far from the 9/11 Memorial, the Guardian described the scene on Halloween this way: “Within hours of Tuesday’s Home Depot truck attack more than a million New Yorkers poured back on to the streets for the annual Halloween parade, and countless thousands of other kids and their parent-minders were out trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. By Wednesday morning, nearby schools that had been in lockdown during the attack were open for business. …” READ MORE