Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembrance Day

As a rule I'm not terribly fond of manufactured commemorations. I don't believe in some kind of mandated Day of Service. But you know something? It's better than one more damn day set aside to bow to the military. I was married to a Navy man for ten years and you know what? I might support individuals in whatever their chosen endeavor but I will never, ever support the idea of "the troops," because that's the idea of war. And a military mindset is not, I feel, appropriate fodder for any commemoration, just as a person is not appropriate fodder for any war. People in our armed forces don't "sacrifice themselves" for "our freedoms" -- they get killed, and our freedoms have nothing to do with that horror. In fact, last I saw our freedoms weren't all that protected at all.

11 September is a day that will live in infamy in my mind for the rest of my life, not only because of the probably-preventable tragedy of 3000+ Americans being killed (not sacrificed) but because of the freedoms this country voluntarily surrendered in a desire for the illusion of safety. We will never truly be safe and free as long as we make war upon other nations and upon our own citizens, as long as we indoctrinate so many into believing that might makes right and violence is the preferred (and primary) solution to complex geopolitical problems. In so many ways, we as a country have learned nothing from this horrific day except how to fetishize it.

But I will also remember the face of the firefighter who sat, exhausted and ash-covered, across from me on the subway car on one of the last trains out of Manhattan before they shut the system down. And how so many people came together to help and keep asking how they could help more. And how we all hugged each other a little more tightly. And I know that, as human beings, we still have that instinct inside us, no matter how much our leaders on both sides of the same political coin try to drown it out of us. And so I still hope.

And on a personal note, I remember Leah, whose birthday it would have been today.


Dwight Williams said...

And many of us also remember Leah. I hope that her surviving family is well, or at least getting closer to well these days.

More on the anniversary of the Atrocities elsewhere, save to say that I fear that the USA was not - is not - alone in having sacrificed more than may have been truly needed for the sake of security.