The Meaning of Patriot Day
Happy "We're All Still Really Terrified" Day, also known as, "If You're NOT Really, Really Afraid; or Say a Single Word Countering Our Fear, then YOU'RE Next On The Great List of Suspected Terrorists" Day.
At 9:02AM EST, C-SPAN showed live footage of an earnest First Lady, Laura Bush, trying desperately to elbow her autistic husband as he swayed to the music of "America" during memorial services in NYC. Against a wall of stoic, steadfast firefighters, the Commander in Chief couldn't stand at attention long enough to get through a sappy anthem or two. Look, I lost friends in the towers, too, but the legacy that America is on the road to creating is the ANTITHESIS of that for which many of those who perished would most desperately hope.
At 9:34AM EST, C-SPAN then broadcast the United States Military Choir leading the group of mourners at the Pentagon -- the seat of U.S. Military Power -- in the distinctly Christian hymn "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past." BUT THIS ISN'T A HOLY WAR, it's a political war against fascism; our version versus theirs.
Over this same period of time, on NASA-TV, the space shuttle Atlantis crew opened the hatch and joined the International Space Station crew to continue construction of the P3-P4 truss systems, designed to double the electrical capacity of the ISS and enable further station assembly. THESE SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS ARE THE TRUE DEFENDERS OF HOPE AND PROGRESS FOR HUMANITY. This work is the most promising and consequential for the enduring long term goodwill of humanity, but where is the attention of the mass media fixated, but on fear-mongering memorials and the ritualistic reading of honorable, but ghostly names.
These activities do NOTHING for those lost; they are enduring indulgences for us, who remain. How long will we keep this level of tearful fanfare up? Five years? Seven? Ten? Fifty? There are those who sincerely believe that this day should grind to a halt for everyone, into all eternity. I'm sure survivors Nazi camps, of D-Day, of HIROSHIMA felt the same; but that's not how it works. We all have tragedies in our lives that stop OUR lives, every anniversary, for the duration of our time on the planet -- but if each group's tragedy stopped the entire world for a day, the world would be stopped, permanently -- in paralyzing woe and grief.
This does not strike me as a particularly honorable way to memorialize anyone.
Certainly, I love, honor, and miss the individuals lost from my life, just as much as any nominally compassionate human being ought, but I guarantee that the LAST thing many of those lost on Nine Eleven would want is for us to drag around for decades in sackcloth and ashes while simultaneously cutting the budgets for MOVING FORWARD and increasing budgets for dealing out mayhem and further curtailments of public liberty. Personally, I am deeply offended on behalf of all those lost on Nine Eleven, by the way that the historic event is becoming an anchor that keeps the USS America permanently battered and bashed in a perpetually storm-blown Vast Sea of Fear rather than serving as a reminder to pay attention to that which is just below the surface, and setting sail for new, more promising, more stable lands.
So, what *is* just below the surface of all this memorialistic media blitzkrieg? In a lasting legacy to Bush II's incomparably inarticulate ineptitude, the 9/11 Remembrance Day is called Patriot Day, as opposed to the pre-existing, longstanding anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution, called Patriots' or Patriot's Day, which I well remember celebrating in grade school in 1960's Illinois. Other sources describe it as, "Patriot's Day, the third Monday of April (Apr 19, 2004). Commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. Also known as Battles of Lexington and Concord Day."
But don't worry, you're not alone, because Republicans are already confusing the hell out of the two, as well.
U.S. House Joint Resolution 71 was approved by a vote of 407-0 on October 25, 2001. It requested that the President designate September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day." President George W. Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001 (as Public Law 107-89). It is a discretionary day of remembrance.
What's the big deal in a name? Well, for one, if you think the CAUSE and IDEALS of the former Patriot's Day -- the very American Revolution itself -- ought be displaced by the hystrionic hyperbole of the latter Patriot Day -- a largely media-age-driven politically expedient reaction to a singularly horrible, but clearly comparatively isolated tragedy -- then my friend, you and I are indeed at distinct odds.
To allow the essence of Patriot Day to coopt the meaning of the foundational word; to deprecate, eradicate, and obviate THE ORIGINAL 200 YEAR OLD PATRIOT'S DAY, is perhaps one of the most ideologically undermining and symbolically diabolical maneuvers that I've witnessed in my lifetime.
As complex as the issues raised by this day, this salient excerpt from Dave Winer's Scripting News: 9/11/2001 does a good job of bringing Focused Attention to the ideas that Patriot's Day ought most embody. Winer wrote:
John Perry Barlow compares today's events to the burning of the Reichstag that led to the Nazi takeover of the German government in 1933. He said in a published email "Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America. Those of who are willing to sacrifice a little - largely illusory - safety in order to maintain our faith in the original ideals of America will have to fight for those ideals just as vigorously."
A number of individual (although unverified) accounts can be found at the Rocketboom911 wiki.