It’s starting to feel old.
You know that feeling you get when you look back at old footage from some major event, and it almost doesn’t seem real because it looks so old? Maybe it’s in black and white; maybe the footage is grainy… maybe the news anchor’s got shoulder pads. Whatever the case—when it looks dated, you begin to look at with a sense of irrelevancy.
“It doesn’t apply to me … anymore.”
I sat braiding my daughter’s hair this morning, I realized that for her, 9/11 will ALWAYS be a moment in history—simply a moment in a textbook. And it dawned on me that for many of us who lived it, it already is.
And don’t get me wrong: in some respects, it’s good that so much time has passed. For those who lost loved ones that day, the years have begun to chip away at the horrible weight of grief they’ve had to bear for nearly two decades.
I was a child. I am now a parent with children the same age as the preschoolers my mother had to stay calm for as their frantic parents came early to pick them up.
Time heals wounds, but it also makes us forget …and not in a good way.
17 years ago tomorrow, nearly every store in the country was SOLD OUT of American flags. You couldn’t find them anywhere, because everyone wanted to fight back—even if it was as simple as hanging a piece of cloth from their home—against those who wanted to break us.
Today, Nike’s big ad campaign features a divisive football player whose claim to fame is disrespecting the American flag. Today, prominent athletes use their position to publicly mock the National Anthem and the flag by kneeling to protest an institutionalized racism that simply doesn’t exist. Today, “First Man”—a major film about the Apollo 11 moon landing—prominently leaves out the planting of the flag on the moon, and some commentators have called Buzz Aldrin “jingoistic” for expressing his frustration at the omission.
Today, we have a nation more divided than ever because so many choose to SEE RACE instead of people; to SEE GENDER instead of people; to SEE POLITICAL PARTY instead of people—to lie, cheat, and steal the truth at every possible chance.
Today we live in a nation where societal influencers (I’m talking to you, Hollywood, social media, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, PBS, ABC, Slate, Vox, Buzzfeed, Salon, and myriad others) politicize natural disasters by blaming Donald Trump for Hurricane Florence and inflating the deaths in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria in order to push a political agenda. So, so many people choose division in times when we should be unified by patriotism.
Today, our children are being taught to be ashamed of the same patriotism that brought us together.
17 years ago today, we were all humans; and proudly, Americans. Nothing else mattered–no one cared. It took the horrific death of almost 3,000 people to bring us together and remind us that we are fortunate enough to call this place home, and that we’d (to paraphrase Toby Keith) put a boot in the rear end of anyone who dared to pull something like 9/11 again.
What will it take to bring us back to that unity?