It is the wee hours of September 11th and I can’t help but write something for this decade milestone since a tragedy such as this. There is no speech, no phrase, no profound quote that can capture the collective emotion this country and it’s people feel. There is no great poet or writer that can truly embody and express the waves of anger, heartbreak, or feelings of vulnerability we all felt that day. The state of shock on par with maybe a geopolitical rape victim; catatonic and non-responsive. There is no proper way to be, to act, or to remember. What is one to do on a day like today? Do we observe silence, pour one out for the homies we’ve lost, or do we rage against the dying of the light? Should you be somber about the event, recharged in the fight we still find ourselves in overseas, or should we instead just remember for a moment and continue on as we did yesterday? Is it somewhat disingenuous that the ten year mark should have any more pomp or circumstance surrounding the day than it should on say March 22nd? There is no proper way to be on this day, as there was no uniform or organized way to react or commemorate it on an idle Thursday any other week of the year.
Today, 9/11, there will be many events, speeches, demonstrations, and even protests surrounding the events that befell this nation some ten years ago. People will hold candlelight vigils, there will be moments of silence before every sporting event tomorrow. The Yankees will play harder, the Jets will want to win one that much more for NY, and the Giants will score that first touchdown for those lost ten years ago and those fighting overseas for our freedoms. There will be fighter jet fly-overs, massive American flag will cover baseball diamonds and football fields alike as the National Anthem is sung with that much more vigor. There will be documentaries, celebrities, and politicians recounting their tales of that day. Anyone with a recognizable face will be expressing the emotion surrounding the day. Twitter will trend Never Forget and #Sep11. Facebook will be abuzz with photos, stories, links, and all other forms of media as people bring all those feelings riling back to the surface only to let it fall away in just as quick a button click when their status moves on to the epic awesomeness of the PB&J they are eating.
There is nothing wrong with any of this. There is no right or wrong way to be, but I think it leads to a question in my mind: Will any of this be genuine? I don’t mean on an individual level. I mean on a show of support level surrounding the public events and speeches that will be made. At Ground Zero, will there be even one genuine, heartfelt, and truly uncensored word spoken? Will the politicians and speakers write their own speeches? I doubt it. There has been a poorly lit room full of speech writers crafting each and every word leading up to this day. There are key phrases that you will hear a lot. Tragedy, horrify, shocking, loss of life, cowardly, rise up, never forget, 9/11, and perseverance. Each person at a podium will do their best to encapsulate their experience and tell us what we all felt that day. They will pour out their “hearts” and let us know what we already know, that it fucking sucked.
It is what comes after that terrifies me. The politicization of this event. The next words you will hear are war on terror, staying ever-vigilant, thwarting, safety, freedom, America, never again, never giving up, hope, future, and something to the effect of never letting them win. What will have started as a partially genuine remembrance will end as a call to arms and a stump speech by politicians, the president, and every GOP candidate for president. Sarah Palin will pop up at Ground Zero in her damned tour bus. Everyone with anything to lose in an election year will try to sell you a bill of goods as to their stance: they felt it the most, love this country the most, and think they can keep us safest of all. They will show the most patriotism, and then the pundits will cut down anyone who missed a buzz word or didn’t look sad enough, or angry enough, or didn’t sound patriotic enough. It will be an ugly thing that comes in the wake of pseudo-feigned genuineness.
Is what will happen today genuine at all, what we will see on TV and hear from our heads of state and Washington in general? Not truly. All of the pomp, the circumstance, and the somber tone followed by rebellion through patriotism and hope, will all be a stage show. It will all be for gain in some way. Patriotism for the sake of patriotism is nearly profane; blasphemous. Should we all feel shitty and relive that terrible day? I think not. Should we unfurl a flag and give this day, this ten year mark, more due than the tragedy of that day deserved yesterday? Not at all. Sure, it’s a decade mark, and milestones in tens always gets a little more attention, but it will all be for the sake of remembering. It will sit as vivid in our minds tomorrow as it did yesterday.
Today will be fodder, like any other day, for the mouthpieces of our day. Those in any position at that time, or now, will spout off their love and unwavering vigilance in the face of terrorism. We will never forget, and always remember. I get it, you’re an American, but so am I. It is hard to disconnect that day from what followed, and the lives lost to a fool’s cause in warring against an idea. I can’t, as an adult, help but feel a certain sense of irony in immortalizing an event that was tragic, but has brought so much tragedy since. I heard Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take say that it was a real PR nightmare that Roger Goodell missed a great opportunity to organize a league-wide form of 9/11 remembrance by making every player wear a flag, or patriotic colors, or American flag cleats. That it was a prime chance missed to organize something for the NFL; they did it with Breast Cancer, but not 9/11? He saw it as a PR opportunity missed. Is this what this day represents? A chance to merchandise and profit in some way as companies, corporations, and organizations, to force out some sort of patriotic remembrance for the sake of marketing, and to NOT be the group that did nothing. Well, that’s peer-pressure patriotism, and that is nothing I want any part of.
Feel how you wanna feel, do whatever feels right. Shit, there is no code of conduct on this day, or for any event of this magnitude. If there was a script to be followed, then feel free to feel whatever it is that the politicians and famous people tell you to feel. Shit, there is a tightly scheduled itinerary that you can adhere to and then go through the range of emotion on queue before and after the first C-break which will feature Doritos ads, Pepsi ads, and patriotic ads for the new Audi A4. Shit, Pepsi has the patriotic cans going, but they don’t include “God” references to avoid offending anyone. Wow, if there is a litmus test for where we are as a country, this little soda experiment is it. So feel what you wanna feel. If that feeling is nothing, then fucking feel it. Those that cling to tragedy are unhealthy at best. If you lost someone in that event, or know someone that did, then by all means commiserate and support them. But it is ok to not feel much of anything if you are far removed from this event, because dammit, if you want to beat a terrorist, all you gotta do is say “fuck ‘em” and order another beer. It’s the American way, after all. God bless this fuckin’ country, Goddammit.Read more "Ten Fucking Years"