HolyCoast: A 9/11 National Holiday? No.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A 9/11 National Holiday? No.

I'm rerunning this piece today from 2006.  My feelings on the issue haven't changed:
Christopher Hitchens writes a piece today in The New York Daily News on the move to turn 9/11 into a national holiday. Here's some of it:
Any proposal to enshrine the calendar date of Sept. 11 as a national holiday would not only repeat all the errors of taste and judgment made so far, but would add a further one.
We have already embarrassed ourselves - and begun to bore the people of other countries - by describing the atrocity as "an attack on America." More than 80 nationalities, as well as many people of all faiths, were numbered among the victims of what was actually an assault on civilization. To commemorate it as a "national" day would be to miss a large part of its point. And to call it a "holiday" would be to degrade it even further. How long before people would start asking each other - as they now do for Memorial Day - say, "What're you doing for the Sept. 11 long weekend?"
I have to differ with Hitches on the issue of an "attack on America". This clearly was designed as an attack on our country and the financial center in New York. The hijackers were not out to kill Bulgarians just because there might have been a Bulgarian or two in the World Trade Center. If nothing else, the attack on the Pentagon and the fact that United 93 was heading to Washington should be confirmation enough that the hijackers were targeting America, and not the world in general.

Hitchins concludes his piece with this:
This is not a matter of sentiment or commemoration: Memorials and holidays are for when the war is over - in the sense of being won. In the meantime, who needs yet another day off from school? Better to have the children taught what is at stake, if we can find enough teachers to do it.
On that I agree. To make another meaningless holiday out of 9/11 would be an insult to the victims, both in the attacks themselves and in the war on terror that followed. We would be better served by using the anniversary of the attacks to show the horrifying pictures of the burning and collapsing buildings, the people jumping to their fate before the buildings fell, and the shock on the faces of New Yorkers who witnessed the scene. We need to be reminded of the sights, sounds and feelings of that day so we can remember why we're fighting and who we're fighting against.

Instead of memorializing the attacks by not working and going to the beach, we should remember the attacks by doing the very things the terrorists tried to stop.

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