Thursday, September 11, 2008
9-11: Subdued Remembrance
We all remember where we were and what we were doing seven years ago today.
The day that, as Rational Jenn has pointed out, was the End of Normal.
As I drove the Boychick to school this morning, we passed the Cedar Crest Fire Station.
The flag was at half-mast and the the trucks were out on the driveway apron, their lights flashing. It was exactly the time that the first tower fell on that day.
So much has changed, but much of it not in the ways that we had hoped.
Americans who can remember 9-11, particularly the Millennialgeneration, lost innocence that day. Older generations remembered other times of lost innocence experienced across the bloody twentieth century. I remember looking into the young eyes of the Homelanders--those who will not directly remember 9-11--hoping that out of this terrible attack we could bring to them a world of greater prudence and liberty.
Prudence. I hoped that with this wake-up call we would come to understand that we have real enemies, people who would like nothing better than to see the United States stumble and fall.
That we could not keep up a way of life built on massive foreign debt, and even worse, a growing burden placed on future generations.
That we had to end our dependence on foreign oil and become self-reliant on our own, abundant resources.
Liberty. I hoped that we would understand that our greatest value and our greatest asset is the idea that all of us have been endowed with the liberty to forge our own destinies in life.
That people living in freely-chosen associations with one another, and who protect their rights and are engaged in the pursuit of their own happiness , are the most unlikely to murder innocent human beings in the name of some great ideological cause.
But seven years later, it seems that we heard the alarm to wake up and smell the coffee, only to hit the snooze button and roll over. No sleeping giant was awakened on 9-11.
We continue to pile up debt to cloud the future. We have stifled the engines of creativity and commerce. We have allowed our government to ride roughshod over our liberties in the name of security. And we have spent blood and treasure on ill-considered foreign adventures that leave us no more secure and a good deal poorer than we were seven years ago.
There is greatness sleeping in the American soul.
But it does not slumber in the empty promises of politicians, who are engaged in a heated discussion of lipstick on pigs while they continue to loot the dreams of citizens.
There is greatness sleeping in these United States.
But we will not awaken it until we recognize that it lies within the strength, goodness, and sense of people living their lives, using good old Yankee ingenuity to solve problems.
I want to see the Freedom towers rise from Ground Zero.
I want to see them built in liberty and as a physical representation of that good old Yankee ingenuity, unfettered, to have a go at solving problems in ways that we cannot yet imagine.
I am thinking of this:
"Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet whose stern, impassioned stress,
a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness.."
"...whose alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears."
May it be so, for ourselves and our children, in our own day and own time.