During the 2004 election, liberals crowed loudly and often when the GOP used a few images from 9/11 during their convention and, very rarely, in commercials. “Off limits!”, “tasteless!” and “exploitive!” were the cries.
But in 2009 it’s just hunky dorey to apply a little revisionist interpretation of recent history to get people to volunteer. Which is what the well-meaning folks at 911dayofservice.org want you to do.
Their mission is asking people to do the following:
Our mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging all Americans and others throughout the world to pledge to voluntarily perform at least one good deed, or another service activity on 9/11 each year. In this way we hope to create a lasting and forward-looking legacy -- annually rekindling the spirit of service, tolerance, and compassion that unified America and the world in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Hmm, methinks our community organizers are a tad confused on a couple of key points.
First, and most importantly, the firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel who were killed on 9/11 weren’t ‘volunteering’ or ‘performing a service’ at the time of the attacks; they were doing their jobs, selflessly and heroically. The Everyday Joes and Janes who were murdered in the Towers, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field weren’t volunteering or serving either; they too were going about their daily lives and jobs. They “rose in service”, no doubt, but not to pick-up garbage or to bring food to the homeless or visit the elderly.
Second, as a nation we were compelled to service and to give because we were (and continue to be) inspired by the heroism displayed by our fellow Americans on that day. We felt compassion for those who were murdered and their families. We were unified in our anger and contempt for those who attacked us and who sought (and continue to seek) to destroy our way of life. In that sense, service and compassion were very much a part of 9/11.
But tolerance? When the hell did tolerance come into play on 9/11? If anything, it was the intolerance of the Islamofascists that was on full display. No American I know of tolerated or accepted what happened.
Third, why is looking forward better than looking back? Is pausing to remember an event like 9/11 a bad, futile and negative endeavor? Ridiculous. Actively remembering an event, no matter how negative it was, provides context and a deeper appreciation of and for the present. This Pollyanna/Dr.Phil “forward-looking legacy” language smacks of an odd attempt to put lipgloss over the fact that some pretty evil shit went down that day and marginalize it.
Having said all that, I wanted to be fair, so I dove deeper into the site.
Did any of the volunteer opportunities have anything to do with 9/11? Honestly, not really. Only one of the eleven Program Leaders directly relates to 9/11: The National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. You can also donate $9.11 that will go to organizing “the single largest day of service and civic action in U.S. history in honor of the victims and those who rose in service in response to the attacks.”
Sounds great. Just one thing, and it confuses the beejeezus out of me: How exactly does service and civic action honor victims of 9/11? Oh, I get it. Everyone’s working together like they did after 9/11. Fair enough. But how does that honor the victims exactly? Is that what some people think the passengers on Flight 93 were doing, performing civic action? Sorry to break it to you, but that wasn’t what any of those folks or any of the others who perished were doing.
Some will note that one of the GoodDeeds founders happens to be the brother of a 9/11 victim. So? Does that automatically give the cause instant credibility? No, and it shouldn't. Aside from the fact that too many surviving family members have used their status to promote their politcal and personal agendas, there are some curious connections to President Obama's volunteer agenda—specifically to serve.gov. There's nothing wrong with serve.gov. Their connection here, however, means that a very large and powerful community organizer with direct connections to the current administration is 'exploiting' 9/11 for its agenda. And that's just plain dishonest and disrespectful.
Lest you think I'm a cold-hearted, uncaring bastard, there’s nothing wrong with doing something good, positive and selfless for your community and mankind. There’s also nothing wrong at all with volunteering. I wish I did more myself. Yet what 911DayoOfService.org is doing here fails to honestly and respectfully honor the heroes and victims of 9/11; there is no logical and emotional connection to the event.
If you want to mark 9/11 (and I should hope you would), do something else to honor the victims. Read about the day. Read about a victim’s life. Listen to every one of the 3000 names being read. Remember what you were doing that day. Hoist the flag. Read about what lead to the event. Watch the brilliantly directed and moving “United 93.” Whatever you choose do, make it about 9/11.
If you want to volunteer, go right ahead. You’re doing a good and noble deed. Just realize you're another step farther away from "Never Forget."