9/11 Then and Now
A few days ago while driving in the central part of the state and listening to Hoosier Country the dj posed the question "do we need to be bombarded with images from 9/11?" His point was that it was in the past and the feelings that reliving that horrific day in American history could do more harm than good. In fact he commented that a number of psychologists recommended not watching 9/11 footage because of the anxiety, depression, and rage that may ensue.
I remember the week following 9/11 hearing similar comments. The footage of that darkest day was broadcasted 24/7 and helplessly we watched. But I think something remarkable came out of that in the days and weeks to follow. We became One Nation. We became compassionate and sacrificial. And yes, knowing we had a common enemy, we became determined.
But in the months to follow 9/11 the determination swelled into hatred in some American hearts. And a year after 9/11 it seemed that "the day that would change a Nation forever" had changed us, but not into the character developed in the days after 9/11. While I absolutely believe that fighting terrorism on an international scale had to be done, I wonder about the war at home.
Patriotism defined in this post-9/11 world is vastly different from what we witnessed in the days after the sky fell, and nearly opposite of the heartbeat of the Greatest Generation's defining moment. During the days of World War II the homefront was characterized by sacrifice, conservation, and neighbors caring for each other. Today, in the throws of this 10 year war, hearts beat with anger and selfishness. Too strong and generalizing? I don't think so, not after listening to the divisive rhetoric being spewed by politicians and pundits.
Think about the calls for sacrifice during World War II. Think about the propaganda several months after 9/11. The government and corporations were asking us to go out and spend our money. This was patriotism redefined. Fifty years ago we understood the value of collectively educating our children. Today patriotism seems defined by taking a knife to the throat of public education. Individualists did not build this country, as much as we like to think they did.....patriotism is not the dismantling of Social Security, public education, or government in general. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite. Even in my young, right-wing Rush days, I would never have been convinced that what is being proposed by today's conservatives is the right path for a great Nation.
As I thought about the question the dj posed, and having already seen tremendous replay of footage from September 11th, I thought to myself "God, don't let me forget"....don't let me forget the tremendous culture of heroism, compassion, and sacrifice our country experienced in the days following its aftermath. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 could be the cultural equivalent of a hundred years removed from that day. If it did indeed change us........God help us for what it seems to have changed us into.