Ten years ago on September 11th, I was in a place not unlike many Americans, essentially surrounded by Europeans in a Las Vegas youth hostel trying desperately to sleep off a hangover…but that morning I heard people chattering, something about burning buildings, plane crashes and how it all looked like a movie, and through my bleary-eyed state, at first I thought they were describing a movie, until it became clear they were discussing something else entirely. Don’t remember what detail finally sank in, but I do remember jerking up from the bunk, hurriedly getting dressed and heading down to the social room where the one television in the place blared on, surrounded by a bunch of people staring at it, slack-jawed and disbelieving.
I stared too, for quite some time…
Then I did what most people did, I called my family and spoke to friends, to make sure everybody was okay, to touch base with something real, logical, something safer I could understand, and also to see if it would be best for me to continue my travels at the time or go home to be with family as soon as I could get there. Well, my mother and I decided I should stay put, in Las Vegas, and later that night I headed back to the Strip to see what, if anything the terrorist attacks might have changed on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Not much, actually.
People still gambled, maybe the tones were a bit more subdued, worry was a bit more pronounced, exhibited by glances at the news on all those casino monitors where previously, gambling instructions had played in an endless loop. People were drinking, there was more security in the casinos…oh, and there were a hell of a lot more flags. Flags everywhere, waving from every Jumbotron on the strip…you couldn’t turn without seeing a flag.
And now here we are, ten years later.
And those flags are still waving.
And 9-11 has become just as inescapable: movies, news programs, documentaries, divided histories, tributes, posters, commemorative coins, stamps, coffee mugs, shot glasses, silver spoons, posters, videos and t-shirts. 9-11 is an industry and yeah, I kinda have a problem with that, same as I have a problem with every politician who gives the overly patriotic speech, or demonizes his political adversary in the name of 9-11, using it to forward an agenda or to demonize a religion so to boost his or her own bullshit credentials. It’s a cheap shorthand for jingoistic intolerance and then that same politician will often use 9-11 as a campaign weapon, invoking it as proof of thier own red, white and blue beating heart, the purest example, further symbolized by a far-too-easy flag lapel pin: yeah, the people involved in these displays are parasites…parasites exploiting the dead, exploiting fear, exploiting a national and world tragedy, all for their own material and political gain.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t commemorative ceremonies meant to respectfully honor those who died that day, sincere words from sincere people without hidden agenda, who put country and healing first: these ceremonies do exist, and rightfully so, and I applaud them.
Personally, I won’t watch them but I applaud them nonetheless.
But then there is talk radio, there is political grandstanding, agenda setting and bullshit politicians who put on the flag like a superhero’s cape and go out of their way to prove their genitalia is way more patriotic than the other guy’s…and these types, these parasites expect you won’t know the difference between the shallow and the deep.
They’re worse than parasites.
They are worms, feeding on the parasites.
So what’s the best way to honor 9-11?
Up to you, your choice of course…we do still have some freedoms left round here, but for me, it’s maybe a moment of quiet contemplation, a few minutes of silence for those who died and reflection about what exactly’s changed since that day, and how I feel about those changes.
And for me, I’ll keep the television and radio off.
I’ll keep at arm’s length everything the media wants to sell me both during their 9-11 programming and the commercials in between, and then I’ll do what I did on that day ten years ago…I’ll contact some friends and family, make sure the people I care about are doing okay.
Just the way I do things I guess, kind of low-key, quieter…
Oh, and thankfully my memory is good enough I don’t need to pass a resolution to never forget something as unforgettable as the morning thousands of people died in a terrorist attack on American soil. Members of the House of Representatives apparently are not as fortunate in this respect…either that, or their memory is just fine and their resolution was only that much more political grandstanding.
Have a thoughtful day.