I will not memorialize that we let cowards win on 9/11, that we readily gave up liberty and freedom in the name of security. Where once we had due process and rights, we now have suspension of habeas corpus and imprisonment without charge, counsel, and hope of our day in court. We have assassination orders against American citizens, “freedom of speech zones”, and warrantless wiretaps.
I will not memorialize that the bravery of those who died on 9/11 is sullied by those, both foreign and domestic, who would exploit those sacrifices for personal gain.
I will not memorialize that what was attacked on 9/11 is precisely what we readily gave up: freedom and liberty; tolerance and inclusiveness; understanding; integrity and honor; and a belief that what we were was better than, and worth defending against, what we have become.
I will not memorialize that 9/11 was used to justify an unjust war, that it was the catalyst to stir an aching populace into a rabid mob bent on blind revenge instead of justice.
I will not memorialize that what was lost on 9/11 was our sense of fairness, decency and respect.
I will not memorialize that the most horrific terrorist attack on U.S. soil now serves as fodder in the cannons—and canons—of hate, that we use it to inflame and incite rather than to teach and to mold, that we look upon it as proof that we must despise and distrust “all of those people” rather than evidence proving that extremist minorities are the enemy, and that we use it as a foundation for our own vengeance rather than as proof that we were on the right road to begin with.
I will not memorialize that the horror of that day now justifies intolerance and bigotry, that we readily cast aside our American ideals in the name of blaming all of Islam for the act of a radical few even while we do not blame all Christians for the atrocities in Uganda or the bloodshed in Northern Ireland, that we do not blame all Germans for the Holocaust, and that we do not blame Americans for the continued support of homophobic sentiments and violence around the globe.
No, I will not memorialize cowards, them or us. I will not celebrate in a morbid dance of memories the loss of life and liberty. I will not proclaim my devout patriotism by waving a flag in the face of history as though this is the same country it once was. I will not pretend as though we didn’t let them win that day.
I will instead remember the dear friends I lost in Washington D.C. and New York. I will remember the sacrifice of those innocently caught in the tragedy and those who died trying to save them. I will remember the loss of military personnel and civilians in Iraq who should never have been put in harm’s way by our sightless lust to get back at someone, anyone. I will remember that “everything changed that day” only because we let it, not because it had to. And most importantly, I will remember the country I lived in on 9/10/2001, a country worth defending, a country worth returning to, a country to be proud of.