Today being September 11, there will be memorials around the country to honor the anniversary of the tragedy and to mourn the deaths. We are now eleven years removed from that day, and perhaps the time has come for us to move on as a nation. There is no need to forget those events, any more than there is to forget the infamy of pearl Harbor, but we should stop using 9/11 to define the nation.
This nation ought to be bigger than the events of that day, to absorb punishment as a great nation. This is what demonstrates strength as a people, to reel from blows leveled against us, and to move forward unscathed, not to complain about how terrible life can be. 9/11 is increasingly used as a measure of patriotism, to see who is not thumping his chest hard enough, or threatening revenge on the perpetrators or anyone associated with them, regardless of how distantly.
The world has seen its share of tragedies in the last eleven years, most of far greater magnitude than those of that autumn day. The Indonesian tsunami killed more than a hundred thousand, and the lives and homes of thousands more were destroyed. In Bam, Iran, an earthquake killed tens of thousands. In the Central African Republic of Zaire, more than three million were slaughtered in an internecine war that few in the West knew was happening. Did these events define those nations in anything closely resembling what is happening here?
There were other events further back in Western history that had at least some effect on nations; the Holocaust had a tremendous impact on the Jewish people especially and on Germany in its repentance for that enormity. In Stalin’s Russia, millions were sent to correctional labor camps, or exiled and deported from their homes. In the Great Purges, hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.
In all these events and hundreds of others, people were persecuted, slaughtered, removed or disappeared, and yet these events did not define those people.
Why then, does 9/11 define our generation? Why did we need to invade a nation that had nothing to do with the hijackers? Why did we destroy that nation, kill thousands of their citizens when they were not involved? Why did we invade Afghanistan when the vast majority of the people had no idea that they were harboring these killers?
Is this the way we act? Do we punish anyone in shouting distance for the crimes perpetrated against us, just because they are there? Why did we not specifically target those gangsters that committed the act and punish them?
This nation is greater than 9/11. We should learn from it and move on to greater things as is our destiny.
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