I once heard a comedian on cable say that in a few years, people will celebrate 9/11 with parades and barbecues.
I really wish it wasn’t true…even if history bears out his theory.
Like all civilizations, American society has, at least for itself, a very acute sense of amnesia. No, there weren’t always sales and days off during Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the like. There was a time when these days actually meant what they were supposed to mean: days of remembrance for those who served and died for their country.
Yet along the way, the original purposes of these days has tended to fade, and in the vacuum comes the parades, the holidays, the outings to the shore, the midnight blockbuster sales and the 24-hour oldies nostalgia countdowns on the radio.
More than ever, they are days that delineate less about sacrifice, and more about our excesses.
September 11, a day that brings little joy to anyone, shouldn’t suffer the same fate. Yet at one time, Memorial Day and Veterans Day (or Armistice Day, in its original form) wasn’t that joyful either…and look where they ended up.
Today, I made it a point to not watch anything related to 9/11. It was not out of disrespect–my own story of that day is very personal and painful. It certainly was not out of creating a false holiday for barbecues and such.
I was afraid–deeply afraid–that the events of that day, raw as they were, would somehow morph into the nostalgia that provides a veneer to other holidays cheapened by merriment and shopping sprees.
Yes, the wounds are only ten years old. Yet the memory of the American people is short and selective. It shouldn’t be.
This day is not like any other day. Nor should it be like any other HOLIDAY either.