Stop Calling 9/11 “Patriot Day”

This past Friday, I did something I’ve never done before. I flew on September 11th. We planned to fly on this historic day several weeks earlier, but when the day came, I’d all but forgotten it was 9/11. When I woke, I made a joke on Twitter:

No one responded.

We traveled standby out of Hartford, CT, because flights out of LaGuardia were jammed because of weather delays. Our flights from Hartford to Detroit to Peoria were uneventful, save for the horrific noise from the engine, which we sat on top of for the Hartford flight. Once we arrived in my hometown of Canton, IL, we immediately ate pizza from my dad’s pizza place, Monical’s Pizza.

The lights from the high school football field bled onto my dad’s adjacent backyard. I hadn’t been to a high school football game in years, and it sounded like a fun thing to do. So my wife, my dad, and I walked over to get closer to those Friday Night Lights.

One of the first things we saw upon arrival was a section the “Student Section.” Ten rows deep and as many kids wide, high school students adorned in red, white and blue held signs: “Never Forget 9/11.” American flags painted their faces, while they waved actual flags and screamed for their home team.

Like I said, the significance of the day largely hadn’t landed on my psyche. Sure, I’d seen the usual social media remembrances of those lost during those tragic attacks. People posted shots of the Tribute in Light. And my family put out thanks that I remained safe fourteen years ago.

See, I was walking into the number One World Trade Center when the first plane hit. I was about 50 yards from the entrance of the building when it collapsed, blowing out the revolving glass doors directly in front of me. The day has significance for me. It was the day I almost died. It was the day I refocused my life and learned to heal.

But it’s not a day of patriotism. For me, it was the day my government failed me. This was America. This shit wasn’t supposed to happen here. But it did.

Then, the American government repurposed and repackaged the horrific events as instigate to invade a country that didn’t attack us. They used it as an excuse to torture people. They used it to rebrand American patriotism for a generation of children who weren’t even born on that dark day in September. It’s called “Patriot Day,” for goodness sakes.

And here I was, witnessing the culmination of it all. Children whose only memories of that day are what they’ve seen in media replays and tales from their parents donned Captain America t-shirts and flag headbands. One girl waved a Gadsden flag that read: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

I’m in Middle America where people bleed red, white and blue. 9/11 is just another excuse to tell the rest of the world how great we are and who cares if they don’t like our big guns and loud trucks. God blessed us, and your country is a piece of crap compared to ours, even though we’re ranked 29th in education.

Make no doubt about it I appreciate the significance of 9/11. It sits in my soul in ways that it doesn’t for most Americans. But I’m sick of its appropriation to pump up our collective ego. December 7th is called “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.” It’s not called “Patriot Day” or “Freedom Day” or “Screw the Japanese Day.” It commemorates those lost that fateful day. And we should treat this day in September the same.

“Patriot Day” is a throwback to an administration that cared more about invading other countries than protecting its own citizens. And it doesn’t appropriately honor those affected by those senseless attacks.

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what it’s like in beirut – for real

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMAIL FROM MY FRIEND, ARTIST, LEE FREDERIX, WHO HAS BEEN LIVING IN BEIRUT FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS. HE WAS PLANNING ON RETURNING TO THE U.S. THIS WEEK, AND THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE BETWEEN HEZBOLLAH AND ISRAEL LAST WEEK. HE IS STILL WAITING FOR THE U.S. EMBASSY TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER SO HE CAN EVACUATE.

PERSONALLY, I’M NOT FOR EITHER “SIDE.” WAR, DEATH AND POWER STRUGGLES, TO ME, ARE HORRIBLE, NO MATTER WHO IS DOING WHAT. I AM POSTING SO PEOPLE MAY SEE A DIFFERENT SIDE OF WHAT IS BEING REPORTED ON CNN, FOX AND OTHER U.S. DRIVEN MEDIA. IT IS IMPORTANT, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SEE ON TELEVISION, TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. DIG DEEPER. AS LEE MENTIONS, AL JAZEERA DOES THE SAME THING, TOO. PROPAGANDA PERPETUATES DEATH.

hello to you all from formerly-lovely beirut!

first of all, I AM SAFE!

this is just a quick group mail to let you all know that.
i’m sorry i havent gotten in touch sooner, but as you can imagine, it’s been just a wee bit hectic over here. so i’m sure you’ll all forgive me.

i’m just waiting for the us government and embassy to get their act together. mad king george II and his cronies need to get the evacuation under way. we’re hoping to get on a ship to cyprus within the next 48 hours. it’s a bit frustrating to sit and watch the swedes, the french, the italians, the spanish etc all leave while the bombs continue to shake the windows, the power is periodically cut, and my embassy personnel rudely tell me “there’s nothing to tell you”

hopefully i’ll be stateside by the weekend, relaxing on my dear mom’s ranch in the high new mexico desert. (mom tells me she already has the guest room made up for me)….then over to pittsburgh to see the rest of my greatly-missed family, including the cool kids that refer to me as uncle lee.

the situation here is indeed bad. latest estimates say 215 lebanese dead (maybe 5% of them hezbollah forces)…. the airstrikes continue, israel has ground forces in the south, and both sides refuse to consider a ceasefire. hezbollah may unfortunately have the technology to strike tel aviv, and obviously nobody wants that to happen. consequences would be horrific for both sides.

fortunately, the neighborhood where i live is very safe and has been as far as possible from the attacks. i am a bit nervous, though not as rattled as my windows by the rolling thunder of missile attacks and low flying fighter/bombers.

CNN has been reporting bullshit. yesterday their correspondant was reporting from the front of my bank in downtown beirut, but he claimed to be in haifa (you can even see the lebanese military guardbooth in the frame!)…. they’ve reported that the port of beirut is belching flame and billowing smoke. the port is about 300 yards from my apartment, and the view from my roof shows NO damage whatsoever….. they’ve also made spelling mistakes, misquoted spokesmen, and failed to report certain things that may hurt foreign sympathy for the israeli cause. al jazeera does the same for the other side……

i recommend sky news (BRITISH) if you can pick it up. if not, BBC is fairly accurate and extremely objective. please don’t be misled by the war machine. get as much info from as many sources as you can, and make up your own mind.

i hope you’re all well…..

take care and keep your fingers crossed that all this will settle and lives will be spared.

lots of love…..

lee