Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Never Forget

This coming Sunday will be the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on Washington and New York and there's no way that anyone is going to forget it. After 10 years we're not only still mired in lachrymose and maudlin self-pity, but the incident has taken on a religious tone, complete with holy martyrs and holy relics. We still have cars with those plastic flag holders attached to the windows and we're reminded constantly that not only will we never forget, we'll never allow our grandchildren or their grandchildren to forget this dark day: the worst day in American history.

Of course I'll be condemned by some for hard heartedness, if not outright treason. I'm only arguing for a sense of proportion, but any balanced and reasonable viewpoint is so condemned in today's America. We're a radicalized, polarized nation choking and strangling on our own anger, yet cherishing it, nourishing it and hoping to preserve it in ritual, in perpetuity: a new anger for the ages. At least some powerful people hope that to be the case. Grieving people being so easy to manipulate and exploit, as some funeral directors know.

Some bits and pieces of the World Trade Center steel framework are being distributed to towns in my area. The Navy SEAL museum in Ft. Pierce now has a chunk and another arrived in my town a few days ago. The local paper printed photos of people kissing the rusty steel, touching their rosaries to it to make them extra holy and others simply hugging the metal, weeping.

The flag wrapped bits of steel arrived escorted by a motorcade over a quarter mile long. Military, law enforcement and veteran's motorcycle clubs accompanied it all the way south from the Georgia border like a funeral procession.
"Our objective is to eventually put this steel on every corner so that people never forget,"

said a retired New York homicide detective. That even includes my tiny, unincorporated crossroads town which has no other monuments of any kind. He expressed hope that one day there would be a holiday in every state honoring the policemen of New York. He promised never to forget.

Of course it wasn't all maudlin lamentation, there was plenty of anger still, even though bin Laden, most of his henchmen and all of those who perpetrated the attack are dead. Former detective Dennis McKenna promised that his son was soon going off to Afghanistan, where the perpetrators no longer dwell, to "whack one of them." Bagpipes were played, America the Beautiful was sung, Holy Water was poured on Holy Steel and then the bandwagon moved on.

"Let these pieces of steel remind us of the 2,973 men and woman who sacrificed their lives and, unknowingly, made our country and people become even stronger,"

said one Vietnam veteran. I wish it had done so, I wish all the other war memorials had made us more reluctant to make wars, but we're hardly stronger. We're far more divided, our economy has suffered from trillions of borrowed dollars turned to smoke. There is a bigger economic divide and the tear-shedders in their sackcloth and ashes want to sacrifice every bit of social progress since the 1860's, impoverishing the already debt-ridden majority while enriching the aristocracy.

Never forget that we're victims. Never remember how we victimized millions abroad in an uninvolved country. Always remember that "they" hate us and always complain when we attempt to make peace.

But how long will we actually remember and how long will we see this sad period in the same dim light? Surely half of our country no longer remembers 12/7/41 as the date that will live in infamy, nor the Battleship Maine on 2/15/98 or the burning and sacking of Washington DC on 8/24/14. People will forget. It won't be the worst thing that ever happened any more.

Some of those pre-teens who are too young to remember will absorb the tailored and fitted viewpoint they have thrust upon them at the moment, but their children will live in a vastly different world and one in which this country will not have the same status and those 3000 saints and martyrs won't really compare with the millions and millions dead in other places we wouldn't get involved in because "they hate us."

"I know that Osama bin Laden did the whole thing,"

said an 8 year old. Perhaps he'll remember that, perhaps not. Perhaps he will learn some more comprehensive history, perhaps not and it's more than likely there are events to come that will make the death of a few thousand seem insignificant in comparison. No, I'll never forget I won't forget going to the Red Cross office to donate blood and not being able to get there for the crowd. I won't forget the feeling of national unity that was so soon hijacked and exploited and used as a tool, and excuse to wage war at home and abroad. I won't forget the overwhelming, commercially distributed fear and xenophobia and lust for battle either, but I'm old and the world belongs to the young - or soon will and the myth of 9/11 will go where it goes, not where I predict it will go.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. You succinctly organized all the thoughts that have been running through my head the past few weeks.

It's time to get over it.

Imagine if any one of us acted this way because of the death of a parent, or a spouse. Wouldn't people thing we needed to be on meds if we kept wearing the hair shirt like this?

Anonymous said...

Word!All I ask is when?Then EVERYBODY turns and Scolds me with their eyes.
Is there not a point where it is completely HEALTHY to "Get over It!"
I guess that New Yorkers feel like it is completely natural to live in a police state jail cell with cameras on every square inch of the planet.Makes ya feel safer!I do know that I am more likely to be murdered by Law Enforcement than by joe terrorist.

Capt. Fogg said...

I think most of us have got over it some time ago which is not the same thing as forgetting, but someone seems to have a strong interest in keeping up the fear, keeping up the anger and self pity. I don't trust such people, particularly when they have enough money to be heard whenever they want to be.

Yes, I sure as hell am still angry about things like the "patriot Act" and all the cynical attempts to strip us of our rights in the name of security.

Remember, it's not "terror" if you're not afraid.