Monday, September 10, 2007

Once More Unto the Breach

In our kitchen, we have one of those big Office Max business calendars - you know, the kind that's supposed to lay flat and cover your entire desk? As I was doing bills earlier, I noted that there is now a listing on the 11th: "Patriots' Day (US)." The strangeness of making a holiday of some kind out of September 11th - envisioning some bizarre point in the future when it's moved to be on the second Monday in September so that people can be sure to get their three-day-weekend in - is not lost on me.

But what I really think is: isn't it way to soon for any kind of official day of remembrance for those who died six years ago, today? I know the official line is to honor the fallen, but is there anyone of any political stripe in these United States - or, indeed, the world - that needs to be reminded to meditate on the day and its meaning? Who remains blithe enough to see the 11th approaching on the calendar and not feel the black tubesock of history close in around their emotional calves?

Hell, never mind the 11th itself - has there been a single day in the last six years that you weren't reminded, in some oblique way, of the 11th? The news from the twin fronts of Kabul and Baghdad are memorials in their own way. Lest we forget.

Lest we forget.

What really sticks out to me about the Federalized celebration of the 11th is the name. "Patriot." Why should this word be used for a terrorist attack on civilians, where the infinitely more spare and truthful name of "Pearl Harbor Day" will suffice for an attack on our troops outside of wartime? Is "Patriot" being used as a veil, because a more straightforward name like "Twin Towers and Pentagon Remembrance Day" would upset people? Or is the very word "Patriot" being used as a way of telling us how we should feel about this day? A standard against which we should measure our own reactions, both private and public?

Patriot Day even has its own built-in Santa figure: every year, the holiday season will begin with a new video from Osama bin Laden. I'd say that even if they do capture him, they should have him put out a new video every year anyhow. It just wouldn't feel like Patriot Day without it.

But "Twin Towers & Pentagon Remembrance Day?" That one they can leave alone. It's not a holiday that can be co-opted from me, or from any of us. It's a holy day, one that we set aside in ourselves to think about what we think about, patriotic or not.


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