I started my “career” as a newspaper columnist 10 years ago Sept. 3.
My first column ever was about the fact that I was going to be writing a column — groundbreaking stuff, I tell you. My second column, however, which ran Sept. 10, 2002 came with the headline “Happy Patriots Day?” and bemoaned the eventual “holiday” that Sept. 11 would turn into.
See, it was only a year after the tragedy had struck New York, DC (Arlington, Va., actually), Pennsylvania and the country as a whole and already I had seen signs of fatigue by the American people. The patriotic fervor that consumed us in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, had subsided. Of course there were memorials across the country mourning the losses from that fateful day, but many people had simply gotten on with their lives.
The column, available at tinyurl.com/8zstvat, suggested that by 2072, we’ll have picnics, much like we do for Memorial Day, and we’ll have as little comprehension what the reason for the day is as we do for Memorial Day.
We’re now 11 years out from the day that al Queda struck at the heart of our financial district, the heart of our political district, and — unintentionally — the heartland of America.
Surely you’ll see posts on Facebook today suggesting that you “Always remember” Sept. 11 and that we remain steadfast in our resolve to fight every enemy foreign or domestic. But you won’t see as many as you saw last year. And next year, you’ll see even less.
Sadly I fear we are bound to forget. Over time the anger softens and we go back to doing what we do best — fighting amongst ourselves.
It is my opinion that if left to our own devices, we’ll tear this country apart from the inside. In fact, any terrorist attack from the outside will actually only (temporarily) strengthen our bond and delay the inevitable self-destructive course that we’re on.
We’ve got red states and blue states. We’ve got Democrats and Republicans. Conservatives and liberals. Christians and atheists. Bloods and Crips. Omnivores and vegetarians. Gays and straights. You name it, we spend all our time dividing into “us” and “them.”
But just like any family, as much as we might fight with one another, we will always team up when attacked by someone from outside. That’s what we did on Sept. 11, 2001. And that’s what we’ll do if it should happen again.
Please don’t construe this as me suggesting that the terrorists did us any favors. They made us frightened. And angry. And xenophobic. They brought out the worst in us while bringing out the best in us.
But before you post another hateful diatribe about what a “Godless commie that Kenyan-born Barack Obama is,” or what a “baby-eating non-tax-paying jerk Mitt Romney is,” remember that they’re both American. And by the standards of Sept. 12, 2001, they’re basically family.
Maybe in 2072 we’ll ride our Fujimaki airbikes to George W. Bush Park for our picnics. Or maybe we’ll stay home and take advantage of the Patriot’s Day sale at Paintsoft (the paint division of Microsoft).
But this year, do me a favor and take a moment to remember what made you angry 11 years ago. And then try to focus our anger somewhere other than the people who are trying to make this country great.
Scott Leffler has been a member of the local media for over a decade. You can read all of his columns and more thoughts at scottleffler.blogspot.com.