Celebrated: in the United States since 2001
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.