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Posted: September 7, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Apted: How to best remember 9/11?

I'm sure that every American is aware that this Sunday is September 11th, the tenth anniversary of the tragic day that we learned exactly how brutally our enemies wish to destroy us. There will be a memorial ceremony at Ground Zero, smaller remembrances around the nation and dozens of documentaries on TV this week to remind us of what happened.

Of course, those of us old enough to remember will never forget.

But I don't really know how to observe 9/11. Collectively as a nation, I'm not sure that we know what to do with this date, either. There's been talk of making it a national holiday. I'm not so sure that's the right thing to do. I mean, look at what we've done with other holidays, even the ones that were originally designed to be solemn remembrances.

Memorial Day was created as a national remembrance of those who died in service to our country, a day to clean up their graves and place flowers on them. Wishing someone a "Happy Memorial Day" was akin to telling a parent on the anniversary of a deceased child, "Hey, Happy Day Your Kid Died." You just wouldn't do that.
But we laid-back, fun-loving Americans quickly turned Memorial Day into a summer kick-off celebration, a long weekend to go to the beach, kick back with a cold beer and throw some burgers on the grill.

We haven't done much better with Veterans Day. I bet many people struggle to name the date that was set aside in November to honor our living veterans. (It's the 11th, by the way.) I fear that it's mostly viewed as a day of inconvenience, because while banks and various government offices are closed, schools and most employers aren't. It's most commonly observed as a day of discounts and sales, as retailers try to further extend the holiday shopping season. And speaking of Christmas, don't get me started on how we've commercialized that religious day.
I really don't want us to turn 9/11 into a national holiday so that it can follow the same fate. But nothing else seems quite significant enough to mark this terrible day in history.

Am I alone in feeling this way? If you took a look at my agenda this Sunday, you'd assume I've not given any thought whatsoever to the date. I have church to attend, then I'm helping to host one baby shower before heading out to another shower for a different friend across town. My son has youth group that night, and it's Grandparents Day to boot. So I'll cook dinner for my mom and remember to have the kids call their other grandparents.

In other words, it's life as usual. It's like any other Sunday. I'll have to consciously make time to remember, to pray. But is simply living my life to the fullest the sweetest revenge against those who sought to destroy us that day? In some ways, I think it might be.

I was pregnant with my son Eli on Sept. 11, 2001. And on this 10th anniversary, I'm celebrating new life joining families that share traditional American values of family, faith and service. We're still free, free to worship as we choose, and I'll exercise that freedom singing to a loving heavenly Father who doesn't require ritualistic prayer five times a day or ask young men to strap bombs onto their bodies and kill thousands of innocent people.

On a day that so many died, we live - and richly, far more richly than the dregs of impoverished nations who committed that crime against us and still wish us harm. Is living well still truly the best revenge, as English clergyman George Herbert said some 400 years ago?

Life as I knew it changed on 9/11, as it did for most of us. It sent my husband to war, an experience that continues to affect us to this day. Maybe because 9/11 touched all of us so differently, so personally, it's only right that we each observe it in the way that we see fit. After all, the pursuit of individuality is part of the American dream, and that's one thing I know those terrorists failed miserably at taking away from us.


Kari may be reached at kari@kariapted.com.

 

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