Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mismanaging the 9/11 Tribute Says a Lot about America Today

This was the first year since 2002 that I woke up and had to be reminded by a news broadcast that it was 9/11. Time passes and our lives accumulate the detritus of daily responsibilities. But nine years later, the terrorist attacks seem no less horrible nor does my memory of the morning fade; I remember the clear blue sky of Washington, DC where I worked two blocks from the White House. I remember facilitating a morning event for the Science and Technology Fellows at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I remember the phone call I got from my friend Greg who first told me a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

Earlier today, as I was perusing my Facebook page, I came across the image of a 9/11 tribute flag on the feed of a high school friend (see above).

I added it to my feed as well, believing it a noble tribute to the 3,000 Americans who lost their lives that day. Well, it was a noble tribute. It may have also been a partisan ploy for publicity.

When the flag appeared on my Facebook feed, a small subhead also appeared under the image that read "Being Conservative". Whether I am conservative or not isn't important. If it had said "Being Liberal", I would have been just as disappointed. Needless to say, I removed the flag. Or rather, I removed the flag that happened to be attached to a partisan message.

One memory I have from just after 9/11 is when Republican and Democratic members of Congress sang God Bless America together in a striking and moving show of bi-partisanship. As one commenter on YouTube wrote about this video, "This always makes me cry...."

Two days ago, ran an article entitled "U.S. Losing Competitive Edge". In terms of international competitiveness, America slipped behind Sweden and Singapore to the number four spot on the list of all nations (we were already behind Switzerland before the list was published). One of the contributing factors to the loss of our competitiveness is that: "the United States is hamstrung by its distrust of politicians".

That we have become more partisan as a nation is plain to see. That our sick economy is sinking beneath the weight of bloated debt on one hand and inconceivable levels of unemployment on the other is also clear. That this alarming situation has not brought political leaders together to devise solutions on behalf of one nation that has experienced three horrible years is a tragedy beyond words.

These three horrible years still do not compare to the horror of 9/11. But when we honor 9/11 by "being conservative", we lose America. That's the road we seem to be on now and that is, unfortunately, yet one more tragedy.

Let all Americans always remember the 3,000 people who lost their lives nine years ago. Let us also work together to improve our economy and bring a new dawn to the United States.


"Being American"

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