All you have to say this weekend is “10 years” and everyone will know what you’re talking about. And there’s been something that’s been bugging me about the remembrances leading up to today and this weekend, but I’ve been afraid to figure out what it was because I don’t want to be disingenuous.
First off, all of you reading this need to understand me: Everyone who died as a result of the terrorist attacks 10 years ago deserves to be celebrated, mourned, and remembered. Some were ordinary citizens going about their normal daily life and had those normal lives snuffed out for no other reason than they live and work in this country. Others were responding to the emergency and doing a job for which they are far too often under appreciated and underpaid.
Every single one of those souls should be honored and cherished for who they were, because they were all someone’s husband, wife, daughter, son, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or good friend. That alone gives them status in our world, a gives them a reason to be missed and mourned.
Sure, in some ways, 10 years can be a long time. But that doesn’t mean that the grieving or mourning or missing someone you once loved or care for stopped sometime in the last few years. So this is an important time for those who are missing someone, even if they have “moved on” with their lives. And, it can even be argued, that the country still needs to heal from those events 10 years ago, because it has permanently scarred the nation with distrust, war, insecurity, and massive cultural, political, and economic shifts.
So I blame no one for mourning in their own way. As long as it harms no one else.
The problems I have are these: Our new media culture, which really has grown up in the last 10 years, is falling over itself to ask questions and cover stories that don’t need to be covered. Everyone in the media has forgotten the adage that less is more, meaning they could tell the same quantity of stories with less heavy-handed methods: simple pictures, shorter stories, less overt sentimentalism for the sake of making the story more emotional. People who have lived through that day will remember how it felt, and the pain and rememberances are still new enough where they’re visceral and don’t need extra emotion attached to the recollections.
And the other problem focuses on those who are patriotic only for certain occasions. First off, understand that patriotism is a stupid word for an even more stupid concept: having a pride in your country has nothing to do with being a patriot or not. I am, very clearly, not a patriot–I would not, under any circumstances, put my life on the line to defend this country. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t support our government or country. I pay my taxes, I support the communities my family and I are a part of, and I take a great deal of comfort in the fact that our political system allows me to speak in support or against the government at any given time.
But there are those who believe that they are patriots if they simply wrap themselves in the flag three days a year. Or that they are patriots for being angry at Al Qaeda or Islam for the attacks. Neither of these achieves anything for anyone–including themselves. And lost in patriotism is the fact that a country does not exist for people: it exists because of people. Some patriots mistake the attacks as victimization, which necessitates retaliation. The nation was not a victim that day: we were the recipients of a misguided message from a small fringe group of outsiders who simply do not like what the country believes in or how the government acts on the world stage. We’re only victims if we don’t see past the attacks and someone else’s anger and continue to fearlessly be who we are.
So, remember what you were doing 10 years ago. Remember the feelings. Celebrate the lives of those who were needlessly killed. Our history is the only thing that makes us what we are today.
See you tomorrow.