My problem with holidays is not that we observe them. Christ, mothers, fathers, veterans, our great country and many others should be properly honored. My issue is that given our short attention spans, we do too good of a job at forgetting the significant people and historical events behind some of these dates.
Actually, it’s astounding how little we know and how early it starts. This video clip is more cute than embarrassing, but as these kids get older, well, you start to worry:
I wrote a blog post last week acknowledging the 22nd anniversary of September 11. Unfortunately, through a series of unintended mishaps, that article was never published. I thought of canning the post, maybe preserving it for next year, but then I realized the mistake makes my point. So please allow me a week to rectify my error and give proper respect for a tragedy whose reflection on its impact should not be limited to one day.
We’re told we should never forget 9/11. I echo that sentiment, but I think it important to remember why we should never forget.
I was in my dorm room getting ready for class on that fateful Tuesday morning 22 years ago. I was a freshman at Texas State and had been away from my family for a few weeks. Getting dropped off at college is not what made me feel like an adult; I’d been away from home before, for longer stretches. On some level, I think I understood my youthful ignorance, and now, I miss the hell out of it.
Even though the events of September 11 were also not responsible for shoving me into adulthood, they went a long way in making me understand life outside myself, and I realized life can be very unkind.
In 1993 I was too young to understand the attack on the World Trade Center. As a college freshman, I was older, slightly more mature, and did not have to fight for control of the TV remote with my siblings. I had uninterrupted access to the news reports that played out like a movie, and as embarrassing as it is to confess, it was likely the first time I fully understood there are people who hate the United States.
As fellow human beings, we should not forget the people who died as a direct result of the attacks, the people who have since died resulting from illness in the aftermath, and the people who have died in service to our country. The terrorism was a jolt to our American heartbeat, and for many families, the terrorism took away loved ones. No doubt the anniversary is a bitter reminder of that tangible loss, likely made all the more poignant because of how intertwined it is with such a high profile attack on American ideals.
As Americans, we should not forget there is a world outside our country. I love the United States for all its rights and privileges, but far be it from me to say how other countries and cultures should celebrate freedom. This is as much an acknowledgement of other people’s autonomy as it is a reminder that 22 years later, there are still groups who reject our principles and would love to see suffering visited upon our homeland. The fact international terrorism does not spend as much time on headlines does not mean our enemies have faded or that our homegrown extremists aren’t plotting.
Perhaps most importantly, we should not forget that not all members of any given religion, ethnicity, or ideological background are threats to the American dream. As imperfect as we are, we would not have a migrant crisis if our country was not a global beacon for peace and opportunity. It does not serve us well for us to turn on any one individual based on how they look, think, or speak. The villains behind the attacks on 9/11 do not speak for the entirety of the Islamic faith.
It seemd inappropriate for me to babble on about personal development and financial independence on a day so steeped in sad recollections. Most of us will likely move through the day like any other, unless you happen to be directly affected by the tragedy, and to you I send my heartfelt sympathies and hopes for some sense of tranquility.
For the rest of us, I hope we did not treat last Monday like most other occasions whose labels we are more apt to remember than their historical significance. Do you know why we celebrate Labor Day?
My point here is not to brow beat you into surrendering to a sense of gloom. We have to live life, relish it, and allow the past to comfortably stay in the past, but nor should we forget why we set aside a day in honor of that person or momentous event that still touches us today.
And, don’t wait until the next holiday to honor the loved ones in your life. No regrets.
Let’s get back to the regular programming next week, shal we?