Patriot Day

From Wiktionary:

Patriot. A person who loves and zealously supports and defends his or her country.

From Wikipedia:

In the United States, Patriot Day occurs on September 11 of each year, designated in memory of the 2,993 killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks…. Initially, the day was called the Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001….On September 4, 2002, President Bush used his authority created by the resolution and proclaimed September 11, 2002 as Patriot Day.

The thing that occurs to me when I think about Patriot Day, is, there weren’t any. Patriots, I mean. There were thousands of ordinary citizens, who had the bad luck to be where they were, when they were. There was a handfull of brave fire and policemen, who had the bad luck to be assigned an impossible civic safety task, of fighting a fire in an ultra-high-rise. Many of these might have been called patriots in a different context — after all, there were many dedicated military and civilian personnel killed in the Pentagon, my old home. But, there was no-one who was called to “zealously support and defend his or her country” on that day. Not even on the other side. They were mostly Egyptians, supporting a Saudi-based extremist religious view, and in fact were conducting an attack considered illegal by the Koran. So, why Patriot Day?

Two things happened on the way to the current name. First, the original name was too long and too detailed. It smacks of those throw-away declarations so beloved of Congress, declaring that this date is Jamestown Elemenary School Day, or that one is National Fight Iritis Day. It just didn’t have the ring of something like Pearl Harbor Day. They’d have been better off with World Trade Center Day.

Second, the day got hijacked by the Bush regime. A Day of Rememberance is quiet and solemn, where one sits at home and actually thinks about what happened and why. A Patriot day is full of inspired speeches designed to call upon citizens to zealously support and defend the country, and not think too deeply about what they are being asked to do. If more people had thought more deeply about what went wrong, and what the best path for our country was, the country we support and defend, perhaps more pointed questions would have been asked. Perhaps politicians wouldn’t have been so ready to be stampeded into thoughtless action.

In the months and years afterwards, the patriot dynamic called forth thousands to support and defend, not (as they thought) their country, but instead in defense of the flawed international fantasies of a group of morally bankrupt politicians, not fit to sit on a local school board.

For me, Patriot Day isn’t about the 3,000 people who died in 2001, it’s about the 4,000 and more Americans who died, essentially in vain, in the years since.

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