Saturday, September 10, 2005

"Every Car on This Lot... You Heard Me, I Said EVERY CAR... will be MARKED DOWN to NINE ELEVENTHS of Its MSRP!"

The other day at work I was inking in some meetings and appointments and stuff on my desktop calendar (i.e., desk made of fiberglass or whatever and calendar made of paper) and I noticed that Sept. 11 was designated "Patriot Day." This totally took me aback, because it was the first I had heard of it. But, I guess that has been the official designation for about three years now, according to this CNN article. (Sorry, I guess I'm just slow -- but nobody else at work knew about it either.)

I think this was not a very good idea... Official holidays are often initially intended to allow the populace an organized opportunity to reflect, remember, etc. etc. But within a relatively short amount of time, they become loci around which postal and teachers' unions arrange to have another day off, merchants have special sales, and tourist traps plan special three-day-weekend packages. How many people actually take advantage of Martin Luther King Day to reflect on civil rights issues? How many reflect on the contributions of veterans on Memorial Day or Veterans' Day? Before you know it, 20 years will have passed, and the emotional upheaval (unique to each individual) that most of us felt on 9/11 will be looked upon with bemused curiosity at best by the reigning cohort of 20-somethings who have no memories of that day at all. And I've got news for you... they're not going to want to hear us talk about what we remember from that morning. They're going to want to know can they get an extra couple of days off of work or school so they can go to the 10th annual Patriot Day Skiingpalooza in Aspen or whatever. September 11 falls on a Sunday this year. How long until we start having September 11 on the closest Monday to September 11 so we can have another three-day weekend? Even better, Make September 11 be the Tuesday after Memorial Day so we can have a four-day weekend.

Other (possibly better-presented) arguments against Patriot Day (not Patriot's Day, BTW) are presented by Robert George in this article in Reason Magazine. Excerpts:

America celebrates Independence Day, July 4—the nation's birthday. Beyond the fireworks, barbecues and concerts on the mall, the idea is to commemorate the moment when the values of democratic freedom and individual liberty that the nation has come to represent were first inscribed in print.

America also observes Memorial Day on the last Monday in May, specifically honoring the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting this nation and fighting for the ideals first written down on July 4, 1776.

Yes, we honor the departed and keep them in our memory. In New York, the sacrifices of the police officers and firefighters who died saving others as the World Trade Center fell down around them will never be forgotten. Nor will the heroism of the ordinary passengers on United Airlines Flight 93.

But the fact remains that this was one of America's darkest days—and not just because of the deaths of over 3,000.

It was a day of failure.

Update: 9/11/05, 9:07 AM (CST) - So New York is commemorating the 9/11 Attacks with a ceremony (yesterday) and moments of silence as described by CNN below:

Houses of worship rang their bells throughout the city shortly after a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time at which a hijacked jetliner crashed into the north tower. Another moment of silence filled the air at 9:03 a.m., marking the moment a second plane struck the south tower. Two other silences were to occur at 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., the precise times when each tower collapsed.

Watching C-Span this morning, I saw that there was a somewhat dignified moment-of-silence event held on the White House lawn signifiying the 8:46 AM crash. A little later, over at the Pentagon's America Supports You Freedom Walk, the 9:59 AM collapse of the first tower was commemorated by (forgive me if my clock is off by a minute or two, but I kid you not) the rock band that was providing background noise belting out "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love."


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