I keep seeing the tag-line “Never Forget” as the 10th anniversary of 9-11 grows near and I feel that there is too much focus on the concept of simply “remembering” and not enough on “learning”. Recalling what happened isn’t nearly as important as the lessons gained from such an experience, in the interest of obtaining stronger foresight and judgement and general wisdom as a nation and as a people.
On the day those towers fell and over three thousand Americans died, the lesson should have been that senseless death and violence is always a tragedy, yet America continues to launch drone attacks that have rendered the deaths of countless innocent women and children overseas, including the bombing of hospitals, schools, and even a wedding ceremony.
The lesson should have been that chaos is the antithesis of the peace we all yearn for, yet America continues to do little more than destabilize an already riled region.
The lesson should have been to think before we act, but we jumped into not one but two wars without even properly budgeting for the appropriate protective gear for our soldiers.
The lesson should have been to pay attention to details such as the CIA memos warning of an attack on the towers via planes, masterminded by bin Laden, memos that were delivered to the President who was too busy vacationing on his ranch in August 2001.
The lesson should have been to strive for the moral high-ground, but instead we kidnapped and imprisoned our own people in Guantanamo Bay via acts of rendition and tortured our alleged enemies in direct violation of international law.
The lesson should have been to recognize extremists as people that bastardize their own religious faith into something that isn’t a religion at all, but instead we’ve blanketed all Muslims as suspect, going so far as to deny their right to build a mosque where they please within the confines of the law.
The lesson should have been that bin Laden’s goal, to bankrupt America by luring us overseas for endless conflict on their soil, should have been rejected and avoided but instead we did exactly what he wanted.
The lesson should have been that we are all brothers and sisters, united in grief, but instead we fight to deny homosexuals equal rights and imprison a disproportionate number of minorities.
The lesson should have been that family and friends are what matter, but instead we’re obsessed with what bikini Jennifer Aniston wore to the beach last weekend or waiting in lines that circle the mall for hours on end just to get our greedy impatient paws on the latest iPhone.
What we should have learned were values and priorities and principles, factors that if properly considered would render this country truly great again. Seems to me that all the lessons we were taught on September 11th, 2001 were fleeting at best, becoming increasingly distant and ultimately lost in their entirety as quickly as September 12th, 2001. Ten years later, these lessons continue to elude our nation. While many will merely mourn the loss of those who died, I prefer to mourn even deeper.
I mourn for an America that doesn’t keep itself afloat with mere platitudes, but with the heart and conviction to back them. I wish for a country that would give a damn enough to provide health care benefits for the first responders that dug through that pile of metal and fire and ash and blood and bone and death just to find even a finger of a young boy’s uncle, the leg of a dearly beloved grandparent, or any other twisted item of comfort to at least try and give their surviving loved ones some semblance of a closure and peace that they will never truly find.
So what did America do?
We slapped yellow ribbons on our gas-guzzling SUV’s, called it patriotic, and went to the mall.
That is why I mourn.