A campaign for a new Memorial Day
: I want to see Congress and the President expand the role of Memorial Day to commemorate not only Americans in uniform who gave their lives to protect us but also civilian victims of terrorism whose lives were taken in attacks on this country.
It is fitting and proper to remember these heroes as well, for their sacrifice is every bit as great. Without chosing to, they fought our war.
As President Bush said in his Memorial Day proclamation: “The tradition of Memorial Day reinforces our Nation’s resolve to never forget those who gave their last full measure for America.”
These, too, gave their all.
And so at 3 p.m on Monday, at the National Moment of Remembrance, lets us recall and give tribute to the victims of all wars and terrorist attacks.
: And go to Photodude to remember the soldiers who have lost their lives in this war.
Never enough, always too much
: I wonder when and whether I will ever hear too much detail about what happened on 9.11 and whether I will ever hear enough.
Today’s New York Times has an amazing story that ticks down the final 102 minutes in the lives of the victims in the World Trade Center, pieced together from witnesses who escaped, from phone calls, from BlackBerry messages, and from email sent to family and colleagues. It is harrowing and horrifying. But it is also inspiring, for even in the darkest moments of fear and pain, these people tried to help each other. They acted with heroism.
: Two days ago, I heard on NPR a report about a man with the New York coroner’s office who was about a half-block from where I was when the south tower came down. He was struck by large pieces of debris before he could find haven under a fire truck; his head and hand were split open; he was battered all over his body; he lost blood and consciousness. He survived, but he does not know how. And now he is trying desperately to find out how. The radio report recounts how he found the New Jersey State Police trooper who got him from the edge of the river onto a boat and over to Jersey City and a hospital. He got to thank that trooper.
But he still does not know how he made it, injured badly, from the site of his fall to the river.
In his voice, you hear not only gratitude but the desperation that comes from having been so close to the edge.
: And tonight is the HBO’s show about the day. I will watch. I have to watch. Not watching is, for me, unthinkable. It would be like trying to forget. And we can’t forget.
: And so I watched. I had to wait until the children went to bed; we don’t want them to see this. I’ll save it for them when they are older — not old enough to understand; that day will never come.
Watching again brings back all the sadness and fear and anger and pain and admiration and sickness.
I feel ill now, not just about 9.11 but about our distance from it. The farther we get from that day, the more we succeed at returning to normal with everything good and bad that brings. It is the bad side of normal that is harder to bear now — the pettiness, the politics, the sniping, the selfishness — and when I watch this show, when I am reminded of the importance of what happened that day, of the life and death of that day, it only widens the gap between then and now, between the petty and the profound, between heroes and idiots. I don’t have much tolerance for normal right now.
That is why I must watch.
: Mayor Rudolph Guliani on the HBO show, speaking to a memorial service: “The tears have to make you stronger. Every time you cry, you have to remember that we’re right and they are wrong.”
: “People here always thought the enemy was Microsoft, not Mohamed Atta,” said the former vice chair of Travelocity.com in Thomas Friedman’s colum on technology after 9.11.