Yes, I know what today is
(WARNING: This post is likely to piss off a majority of people who read it.)
The yearly day, more so than just about any other of which I can think, that email inboxes, Twitter streams, and Facebook feeds are saturated with “Never Forget!” and “USA! USA! USA!” posts, among others. Many contain some sort of doctored photograph- an eagle crying or pissed off, the Twin Towers with an eagle superimposed in them, etc. Some contain links to some webpage at which a slideshow plays, often backed by some cheesy robo-patriotic song. No offense to Lee Greenwood, but I absolutely despise that goddamned song of his.
It was previously a nice little tune about how cool it is being an American, but all the gratuitous emails and Facebook posts have ruined it for me. That and how it gets played over and over and over and over at every single function having anything even remotely to do with patriotism, America, or whatever.
I’ve expressed this sentiment on a few of 9/11’s anniversaries, and I feel it once again bears repeating.
It was the single most devastating event that has happened to our country- certainly in my lifetime, if not in the 236-year history of the country. I am absolutely 100% certain without fear of being wrong that I will never forget where I was, or how I heard, nor will I ever get those images out of my mind. That second plane hitting the tower. The smoke and fire billowing forth from the towers. People not just falling, but jumping, to their deaths. Each of the towers collapsing. And of course, the devastating aftermath. I will never forget how spookily quiet the skies were once all planes were grounded across the country, nor how much pause it gave me to hear that first plane overhead when planes were allowed in the air once again. I remember stopping in the middle of the street and looking skyward and just watching that jet until it went out of sight.
9/11 is being called this generation’s Pearl Harbor, and for good reason. One can also compare it to the Challenger explosion, the Great Depression, or maybe the Hindenburg tragedy, as well as the JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King assassinations, among countless other things, in that there are just certain events in our history that everyone who was alive when it happened remembers where they were when they heard the news, how they heard it, etc.
I’m more than reasonably certain that nobody- at least nobody who was old enough (or young enough) to have a conscious memory formed at the time- will forget that day.
Which is why I don’t want to relive it.
I am extremely blessed in that I was not there that day, nor did I have anyone close to me there. The closest thing I can claim is- and I just found this out yesterday- that Nancy, one of my Facebook acquaintances, boarded a plane with her husband and three kids at the time to fly home to Springfield from New York City- the day before 9/11 happened. That kind of spooked me a little. I don’t know if she’ll even see this post, but if she does: Nancy, I’m SO thankful you came home when you did. At any rate, I was not directly involved in 9/11. I thank my lucky stars that I wasn’t there, nobody in my family was there, and none of my friends were there.
Don’t get me wrong– without question, I shed tears on this day 11 years ago, thinking of the men, women, and children that died that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and southwestern Pennsylvania. My heart aches for the families and friends of the victims, still to this day. But to me, they are the only ones that really deserve this day. In my eyes, they can participate in memorials, moments of silence, and other remembrance ceremonies. Me, I just look back on it in my mind for a few moments, and then move forward. I don’t dwell on it all day every year. I mean absolutely no disrespect to the victims, their families, the survivors of that day, or anyone else who chooses to actively remember 9/11. That’s just not something I choose to do. I don’t WANT to see the news footage over and over. I don’t WANT to watch the towers collapse in slow motion from the view of every television and cell phone camera that was focused on them that day. I don’t WANT to see the humanity. I can never get that out of my mind- yet oddly enough, I don’t feel I should ever get that out of my mind. I just am not going to keep it on an infinite loop.
If, in your mind, that makes me a horrible American, that’s certainly your right to have that opinion. But you can also kiss my ‘Merkan ass.
I am absolutely no less American than you, Mr./Ms. “Forward Every Email and Repost Every Facebook Status That Has Anything Even Remotely To Do With 9/11, America, or Patriotism In General”. Conversely, your doing so makes you no more a patriotic American than me. So cool your jets.
Everyone grieves differently. How you choose to remember 9/11 is your business, and I have no right to tell you you’re “wrong” in doing so, nor will I. So don’t you dare do that to me. Don’t you dare judge me because I don’t stand up and wave my flag and sing that goddamned Lee Greenwood song. I am not trying to forget 9/11. I simply don’t wish to relive it.
Patriotism on 9/11 is a lot like “romance” on Valentine’s Day: It loses all meaning and significance when it is contrived or expected. All the constant repetitive “Never Forget” and “God Bless the USA” posts all goddamned day long really come across looking rather disingenuous, to be perfectly honest. But again, I’m not knocking anyone for posting all those posts. Just don’t judge me for NOT doing so.
You want to show me REAL patriotism? Show me an America free of racism.
Show me an America in which both genders, all races, and all religions- including the lack thereof- are truly equal.
Show me an America in which homosexuals can legally be married in every state- and have it simply called “marriage”, not “gay marriage” or, worse yet, a “civil union”- and can also legally receive any and all benefits therein as their heterosexual counterparts do.
Show me an America in which the homeless, the hungry, and the sick are given as much attention and assistance as a dog locked in a car on a hot day. Amazing how people will put their lives in jeopardy over saving a dog- a noble gesture, mind you- yet will equally go out of their way to avoid housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and curing the sick. Worse yet, they’ll send millions of dollars to victims of wars, plagues, famine, and natural disasters in foreign countries they can’t find on a map- again, a most noble gesture- but will do absolutely nothing to help out those equally unfortunate in the United States.
Show me an America in which the same outrage over possibly missing a pro sports season is, far more appropriately, directed at the plight of schoolteachers and the children- your children and mine- that those teachers teach.
Show me an America in which, even though we have a two-party system, those two sides can actually come together for the benefit of everyone, instead of just their side. An America in which, instead of saying how much “better my side is than yours” or at least “how much worse your side is than mine”, we can coexist and do what is best for the common good for the supermajority of Americans.
Better yet, show me an America in which the growing number of voters dissatisfied with the Democrat-vs-Republican, liberal-vs-conservative, left-vs-right ideal have equal representation in the media and, more importantly, in the voting process. There are far more libertarians and “centrists” than the MSM want you to know about. Stop making everything black-or-white. 97% of life is nowhere near that tidy. Nor that simple.
Show me an America full of unhyphenated Americans. An America full of, simply, Americans.
You show me THAT America; then and ONLY then will I bust out the Lee Greenwood by your side. Patriotism is more than just waving a flag and banging a drum, literal or figurative, a few times a year.