Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11

Today is September 11, a date that acquired a new meaning six years ago. I don't know how many years it will be before it doesn't have the same effect, but it won't be in my lifetime. People still think of Pearl Harbor Day, so I know that 9-11 will have this meaning the rest of my life, and probably far beyond.

I am very concerned that we seem to "celebrate" this day a bit too much. And we "glorify" it in some ways. There are always incredible stories of heroism in any tragedy and they're compelling. I am just as touched as everyone else when I see them.

But, when I hear phrases like "greatest American tragedy" I bristle. First of all, I don't want to classify tragedies as "great" or... what... "less than great?" Second, there are other tragedies I would consider in the running for "greatest" - they certainly involve more people.

There are children dying of hunger - yes, in the United States. Worldwide, 18,000 children die every day of hunger. Every day. That is a tragedy. There are elderly Americans who suffer because they don't have sufficient heat or air conditioning, medication or food. There are homeless people who's only crime is losing the health lottery and having a mental illness in a country that doesn't believe in treating people who aren't employed by someone who offers good health insurance. And we Americans have a very long and ugly history of tragedies. Slavery? More than 600,000 people were brought to the US against their will to serve as slaves. I call that a tragedy. Of monumental proportions.

So, let us remember that not all tragedies involve bombs or planes flying into buildings. Of course, 9-11 IS a tragedy. Absolutely. It is horrific to us and at the same time we are inspired by the stories of rescue workers and those people on a plane who went down in a field, fighting for their lives. It's a tragedy and I don't want to diminish it. But I don't want to celebrate it either. But it certainly is worthy of remembrance - the event and the people who lived through it and those who didn't.

In honor of that remembrance, the Kansas State Fair has a quilt on display made by Lois Jarvis of Madison, Wisconsin. The Lone Star pattern has been manipulated to identify many events of 9-11, including the explosion, gray skies and the chain link fence where remembrances of victims were placed. The quilt also includes images of 700 victims. Greg provided me with some photos from his blog.