Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Patriot Day

Celebrated: in the United States since 2001

Wow, and I thought I didn't want to write yesterday's post. I almost didn't write about this today; it is also the National Day of Catalonia, the Coptic Christian feast of Nayrouz, and Teacher's Day in Argentina. Oh, and the feast of Saints Protus and Hyacinth, martyrs. But it's a Tuesday, and it's a day just as beautiful as that Tuesday in 2001 was, and there's no escaping it or ignoring it. In ten minutes I will observe the minute of silence at 8:46, when the first plane hit the first tower.

Patriot Day is legally, officially, a national day of mourning, as designated by Public Law 107-89. We'll never forget, but I don't want to remember the fear or the sorrow. I want to remember the comfort I felt in being with my friends and family, spending that long, terrible day on the couch in Moira and Meredith's apartment. I want to remember the powerful sense of community a couple of nights later, when my neighbors and I stood with candles and bells along the sidewalks of Genesee Avenue. And I especially want to remember what it felt like to sing and dance and embrace strangers at the Farmer's Market that weekend, when we all cried and laughed and passed around a red-white-and-blue leather vest as if it had some magic properties.

Because that, to me, is patriotism. It's not chest-beating or saber-rattling or announcing over and over (in increasingly loud and obnoxious tones) that the United States is the best country, ever, no matter what. It's turning to our neighbors and asking, "How are you? What do you need?" It's building things and sharing things and looking for ways that we can be better, always better, instead of congratulating ourselves for things our ancestors did 70 or 100 or 200 years ago. It's helping each other be the best we can be, even if it means giving up some small portion of our own time or money or professional success. Because a great country requires effort and accomplishment from all of us, not just some of us, and a great country leaves no citizen behind. 

Later today I'll head over to the Augusta Civic Center, where the Red Cross is holding its annual September 11 blood drive. Chances are, they're holding a blood drive somewhere near you today, too. The original American patriots pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. I can spare a pint of blood.


Fiona said...

A perceptive and sensitive post, Clair.

So many of us in the Western world remember that day with abject horror.

Watching the vile and despicable attacks it seemed at the time to be the most awful thing that could happen to (y)our 'developed' society.

Who could have imagined the resultant (skilfully-crafted) paranoia and chest-thumping excuses for global resource-grabbing that would result? The self-inflicted results of 9/11 are almost as dismaying as the event itself.

Whilst the US is a wonderful country with incredibly gorgeous scenery and plenty of bright, intelligent people it has a dark side that is frightening to many citizens of allies and noncombatant nations.

If Patriot Day were to address "Special concern for the well-being of the country" [as a whole] and "Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country's good" (Stephen Nathanson), the US could be en-route to regaining its prior position as a country deeply loved and respected by other nations.

Moira said...

Beautiful post. I am so glad we were together that week, and later on
Thanksgiving in Yosemite. It was a strange and intense time. We were lucky to have such friends and resources -- to laugh and play games and do skits and light candles be together.