Patriot Day may be a misnomer
Highlands TodayFriday was 9/11/09 - eight years since Islamic jihadists attacked the World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 innocent civilians.
Published: September 13, 2009
Published: September 13, 2009
Have you noticed that some calendars now mark this date as Patriot Day? How that name was chosen, I don't know, but I'm not sure I like it. Oh, I'm very patriotic. I love this country, as much as anyone, as many of my previous columns have demonstrated. But I still question if Patriot Day is the right emphasis for the remembrance of 9/11/2001.
Yes, I remember heroic Americans rushing to the rescue. Some even gave their lives to save others. But their heroism is a completely separate issue. By dubbing this Patriot Day we make it easy for future generations to forget that what happened on this day was a heinous crime of epic proportions, planned and perpetrated by people who wanted to bring down our government - people who continue to hate and target us in every way they can.
We certainly don't want to change the name to anything that memorializes the crimes of our attackers, nor do we want to focus on the morbidity of the occasion. I feel this day should be remembered as what it was - not just a tragedy, or a crime, or an outpouring of America heroism, but as a powerful unifier.
The terrorists expected that in the wake of 9/11 the fabric of American society would disintegrate. They expected us to fall apart, begin fighting amongst ourselves, pointing fingers, deepening the divisions between us, and leaving us vulnerable to future attacks.
What they got was quite the opposite. Americans of all different faiths, political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds united under the banner of freedom in the face of a common enemy. That instant unity under attack is the often underestimated power of democracy that totalitarians and anarchists will never understand. The very liberty that allows us to disagree also gives us a common bond - fierce national loyalty.
Yes, we fight among ourselves, but when attacked from outside, we unite as one. That is our real strength. Our parents' generation witnessed it when Pearl Harbor was hit. Our fathers marched off to war together - Irish Americans, Italian Americans and Native Americans. And, yes, even German and Japanese Americans, eager to demonstrate their love for the land that had welcomed them. Black Americans took the first great strides toward racial equality by distinguished service as the Tuskegee Airmen, the most successful flying aces of the entire war.
As far back as the Revolutionary War, before the U.S. was even a country, the battle cry was "Don't tread on me!" The flags and battle insignia they used showed a hissing rattlesnake coiled to strike. Some versions showed the snake cut into 13 pieces to represent the 13 colonies, but still ready to strike as one.
September 11 should probably be declared a national holiday, but not one we "celebrate." Instead, it should be a day for serious reflection, soul-searching, and reaching out to one another. Perhaps it should be called Loyalty Day or American Unity Day - a day when all differences are laid aside, our commonality as Americans savored, and our bond to one another renewed. One nation under God, indeed!
So what would you call the 9/11 holiday? E-mail your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.