Give us our money back!

Readers respond to articles on money for Sept. 11 widows, divorce and the unrelenting strangeness of life in New York.

Published January 29, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Read "The Reluctant Icon" by A.R. Torres.

A.R. Torres is a brave and blunt woman. She addresses many of my thoughts about 9/11 and the monies that flow from it. She's seemingly grateful that her husband died in this attack and not another (Oklahoma? Lockerbie?) because at least she and her son will be taken care of. All this arguing over who gets more money because one's relative was a firefighter or police officer or because someone was engaged to someone who died -- all this over-deifying will hurt us everyone in the end. Some were heroes, some were unlucky, but all these deaths were tragic. Our long national nightmare started Sept. 11, and where it ends may be more in our hands than we know.

-- Mel Westbrook

This article really rubbed me the wrong way. While I feel for the woman who has to raise her child alone, I also think that her sense of entitlement is presumptuous. The truth is that people die young every day, and every day spouses have to cope with losing their sole breadwinner. This is why people buy life insurance.

Since most people do not die in such a public manner, most of their survivors do not receive the public support that the victim's families did. I hold nothing against the people who got money from the charities; after all, I did donate to the fund myself. What I object to is that this woman is saying that she deserves this money. She does not. Her husband died, and I am sorry for that, but she did not earn the money she is receiving. She just happens to have been unfortunate enough to lose her husband in the worst attack on American soil.

-- Megan

A.R. Torres's article is incredible. I have felt ever since Sept. 11 that the tragedy for those who lost people is not only the death itself but the fact they have had to watch those deaths over and over and over again, on TV, in newspapers, and so on. To this day, television stations use images from Sept. 11 as casual backdrops, as if these images do not depict thousands of people being murdered. Someone should copyright all those images and give the money generated from their use to the widows and kids. They would make millions per hour.

-- Jessica Peterson

"I'd like to think that for every flag, there is at least $1 that may come my way. For every word in print, $5; for every sound bite, $500; and for every image, $1 million. In this way, I see the money I receive as royalties from feeding America the sort of media that it desperately needs to consume, day after day."

How dare you blame the Americans who happened to be watching the news on that fateful day and then felt overwhelmed enough to dig into their wallets for you? I've lost my job and will lose the roof over my head at the end of this month because of this tragedy, which is no way comparable to your loss, but if you're comparing your loss to winning the lottery -- please, do us all a favor and send us our money back.

-- Terri Porter

Read "Any Day Now" by Clara Stein.

I have gone through an ugly divorce from an ugly marriage that lasted way too long and cared for three wonderful children, one deeply emotionally disturbed and one with spina bifida. I had almost no familial support during these trying times and absolutely no emotional support from my ex during our son's numerous health crises. It irritates me to see people so incapable of coping with the minutiae of life paint themselves as strong and noble, while the rest of us who keep going, keep working, give support and help to the ones closest to us, usually just keep our mouths shut and cope. You might try it.

-- Carrie James

Regarding Clara Stein's article, "Any Day Now," which was heartbreaking in its vividness and poeticism, I can't help but offer some words of advice to the writer. Unfortunately, her memories seem to revolve around all that he had done for her, and she seemed to have a lot of problems. In the future, I hope the author will try to work out her personal problems so she can be a more giving person. Then perhaps her next marriage will be more successful. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the guy is a cheating jerk. In which case, be mad, Clara. Be very, very mad.

-- Anonymous

Thank you for the essay by Clara Stein. I've been divorced for a while now, but this piece brought it all back -- all the confusion and pain. It does get better, but the initial cutting is excruciating. Best wishes to the author from someone who knows.

-- Carol Weis

Read "What Lies Beneath" by John Parsely.

I read "What Lies Beneath" with mixed feelings of understanding and irritation.

The feelings and facts of Sept. 11 will never leave us and should never leave us, just as the memories of my mother's slow and painful death will never leave me and should never leave me. There are some pains too great to ever "heal," if by healing we mean forgetting.

We are to return to normalcy -- but what we mean by normalcy seems to be a negation of those memories. I guess if I am to feel normal again, I have to forget about the fear and the anxiety and pain, because those feelings are not "normal."

But the world wasn't normal before Sept. 11. Death, violence, fear and pain are regular events of this world we live in, even if some of us are lucky enough to be able to pretend that it cannot happen to us.

The tragedy of Sept. 11 is replayed on larger and smaller scales all over this country and this planet every moment -- a child loses a parent in a car crash, a parent lives in fear of losing children to illness, communities are under continual attack from HIV or warfare and violence.

We should not diminish the events of Sept. 11, but we should also not separate them out from our lives as "abnormal." By doing so, we are negating a major factor in what it means to be human.

-- Siobhan Green

It's nice to see someone else express this: That it's not business-as-usual here, that we go about our business but feel slightly sick at all times. I'm not so sure the pressure to keep up a brave front is helping anyone. Those of my friends who were very close to the towers, who escaped in the thick cloud of debris and were injured -- or just damaged inside -- are starting to have more serious fallout now, the real effects of post-traumatic shock. And I don't think that the "brave" assumptions that it's all over are helping them cope with the very real feeling that it will never be over.

-- Lisa Finn

By Salon Staff

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