>I watched the September 11 ceremony at Ground Zero this morning. As the names of the deceased were read by the significant others of those who died, it seemed that at least one-third of the dead were women. (I confirmed this was the case at New York Metro, which offers thought-provoking info on 9/11 by the number.) Yet the overwhelming number of name readers were women. Usually I like to hear women’s voices ringing out loud and clear, but in this case, many women whose voices are permanently silent did not have the same opportunity to have a loved one speak for them the way that the deceased men were spoken for by a grieving spouse.

For a fair representation, one out of every three name readers should have been a man. (This is not counting same-sex couples, although I was pleased to note that two gay men were included as name readers and a lesbian eulogized her partner.) It gave a weird impression that no women died that day. Where were the voices of the husbands and other male partners? Were they not invited to speak or did none accept the invitation?

I know this is terrible to say, but it became very numbing to hear the widow parade bemoaning the loss of their men one after one. At least there was a respectable amount of ethnic diversity among the women readers, but more male voices would have added depth and perspective to ceremony.

Regardless of who was picked to read, why, and how, it didn’t work as a strategy for honoring everyone. It only led to some people going on and on about their loved ones, holding pictures of their dead spouses up the entire time they read other people’s names, terrible (if heartfelt) poetry, two semi-outrageous political statements, and worst, people’s names not read at all because the readers were too upset or focused only on their dead loved one. The last two readers had to read a list of names of people who were skipped. Not cool.

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