You can unwrap yourselves from the flag now.
So here we are on another September 12, pondering what could have been. I swore to myself that I wouldn't write about September 11th this year, but nevertheless...here I am.
I want you to think about "National Psyche" for a minute, and what that might mean to you. At one time or another, I think we've all written about most of these things I'm going to mention.
In each generation of Americans, there seems to be that one, seminal event that is remembered for the rest of your life, no matter where you are or what you were doing.
My father has memories of Pearl Harbor being attacked (He was 7 at the time.) FDR dying is more vivid for him, which came when Pops was 11. Just think about that for a minute - FDR was president for my young father's entire life up to that time.
For my mother, she's got two things she has told me. As a young girl of 14, she was on Block Island on the night the Andrea Doria went down. And of course for her generation, only slightly younger than my father, it's November 22, 1963.
I knew a handful of parents through Scouting back in the 80s that claimed their moment was Woodstock, so who am I to argue?
As for me..I'll start with those vague, shadowy memories I have of July 20, 1969. I've said before that other family members have confirmed enough of what I remember to cement it in my mind that I remember the moon landing. I was just about to turn 3, so take it for what it's worth.
It's esoteric, but I also remember the Delta crash at Logan in July of 1973
. I was 7 years old, and I think I remember it more because on that same day my baby brother and I knocked over the cabinet at the bottom of the stairs - we were lucky we didn't get killed, but I digress.
Of course the big one for me is the Challenger disaster.
That's actually what I want to ponder briefly this morning. Do you remember where you were on January 28, 1986, what you were doing, what was said and done? Think about this - 2001 came fourteen years after the Challenger blew up. What was going on on January 28, 2001? I bet you don't remember that. Maybe there's a difference in that Challenger was an accident - the WTC Center was an act of war. It may be a little easier to move on after something like that.
So we come to yesterday. I was actually appalled by what went on in my office yesterday morning. The local radio station of course played the "Star Spangled Banner" at 8:45 am, but it wasn't a stirring, pompous version. It was some pop star, probably culled from an "over the top" sporting event, with the expected histrionics throughout. I ignored it, despite my cellmate turning up the volume. Nay, it was the next block of cubes that I almost had to punch. Full of young kids, they were gathered around, listening and chatting, somebody brought cake. They were drinking coffee and generally ignoring why folks were stopping to gather in the first place.
Yes, September 11 is now an excuse to have a party.
I was further irritated by every website on earth posting some sort of retrospective slide show - "Take a look back at < insert thing here > 14 years ago!"
Listen, I was THERE 14 years ago. (figuratively, not literally). Has it ever occured to anyone that maybe I want to move on?
Next year is going to be 30 years on from the Challenger Disaster. (Can you believe it?) I will do the thing I've been doing for years now - I'll post the mission patch on Facebook, with the simple reminder to "Remember Challenger".
Think about it - as it fades from living memory, "Remember Pearl Harbor" will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
There are people alive today that actually have no idea what the Challenger accident was, or why it was significant.
Only September 11 gets rammed down our throat in an "Annual Funeral" wrapped in the flag, covered with jingoism, and a hearty serving of false Patriotism. Parading our dead through the street every year to the sound of marching bands, flags flapping in the breeze, and pontificating politicians is never going to promote any sort of healing.