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Commemorating Sept. 11

A month from today we will mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon--as if you needed me to remind you.

Actually, a Washington Post survey published in Wednesday's paper showed that 30 percent of Americans couldn't accurately state the year the attacks occurred. That leaves me glad that my memory lapses pale in comparison to others, though it renews questions about the national IQ. (Go ahead, tell me remembering this date doesn't matter.)

Meanwhile, the entertainment industry is cranking out movies for the theater and television, and newspapers and magazines are writing story after story about where we are five years later.

Books are being published, photo exhibits being staged, and there will be an observance on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center site in which the names of the victims will be read, with time given for family members to come and lay flowers. At sundown, the "Tribute in Light" will return for one night, in memory of those lost.

And we have a real-life reminder, with the busting up by British authorities of an alleged plot to stage an attack that appears, from the early reports, designed to be 9/11-like in its scope.

So my question is how do as a national properly memorialize the attacks on that day?

Some people to whom I have posed the question don't think we should at all, saying it was the first shot in a war that we are still in, and the best way to memorialize the dead is to get on with it.

Others fear the tendency to allow phony sentimentality to masquerade as sympathy, ultimately cheapening the occasion.

Yet there are others who don't think the country does enough. They want to make Sept. 11 a national holiday.

So how do we as a nation properly memorialize the attacks of that day, if at all?

By Valerie Strauss |  August 11, 2006; 12:49 PM ET
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go shopping, it's what the leadership of this government told us to do in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in the first place.

Posted by: imgoph | August 11, 2006 12:58 PM

Please not a national holiday. We already have enough holidays meant to honor our greatest leaders (Washingtion, Lincoln, Martin Luther King), great sacrifices (Memorial Day and Veterans' Day), and the contributions of all to all (Labor Day) that are, essentially, occasions for big sales at auto dealerships and elsewhere. I think a ceremony on that day and then get on with it. We don't want to lock ourselves into something that we'll stil be commemorating thirty years from now.

Posted by: THS | August 11, 2006 1:42 PM

This is a great question, and especially apropos here and in New York. I think in a lot of other places around the country, you'll see moments of silence and vigils and that sort of thing, and probably here as well, but I wonder what happens on Sept 12, 2006? My guess is most people elsewhere go on with their lives, as they should. Living here, and in New York too I am sure, I am always going to remember the feeling of fear-- real, honest to God fear-- that I felt just walking outside my home for the first time after the attacks on 9/11. In the case of DC, NYC, and Shanksville, we didn't just have flags and vigils on 9/12/01, we had burning reminders of loss and horror and pain. It's hard to imagine if you didn't see it in person. And this is to say nothing of the true loss that day-- 3000 neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

So the question really is, how does one effectively commemorate the lost lives and the ongoing sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors? How do you commemorate the fear that hit you to the core of your being-- or do you at all? I still ache right down my spine every time I see the footage of the planes or a preview for some 9/11 movie. I don't think those things are in bad taste necessarily, but frankly, I can see it all still clearly in my mind.

My way to remember has taken a different form. I take that fear and anger, and direct it at doing everything I can to make it so my unborn children and grandchildren can live without knowing these emotions the way I've come to experience them. We can't just wipe out a few terror cells contemplating horrors that take us back to 9/11, we've got to find a way to end the system that tears humans apart in the service of demagogues, false promises, and greed.

Don't think that I'm some crazy radical, either-- I'm saying that we've got to find a way to create a world where every child is born to fulfill his (or her) potential for good, and not for evil. This is the central message of every life-affirming creed and social system we've developed over 10,000 years of civilization.

Posted by: Arlington | August 11, 2006 2:11 PM

Waaaay too soon to be doing a memorial. IMO, too soon for movies about that day. Hard enough to just look at the books and documentaries. How about just informal gatherings at the relevent sites, and share stories. Or with groups of friends, congregations, whatever-- make remembering *personal* and meaningful, if it is to you. This should not be a 'holiday'-- but rather the day should be commemorated as a BIG wake-up call to the fanatisim and goals of islamofacists. We should never forget that day, and more importantly, how we came together as *Americans*, first and foremost in the days that followed. Those days, that feeling of community amidst the shock and grief, are what we should concentrate on having, each and every day.

Posted by: dahozho | August 11, 2006 2:13 PM

I think we all should remember the day,the victims and their families, and the heroic people who tried to help others on our own, quietly. Then I think we should all practice random acts of kindness and hope that peace and kindness prevail over the kind of sick hate that the September 11th perpetrators practiced. I don't support any national holiday commemorating hate. Also, lets call a moratorium on politicians trying to gain political advantage through September 11th and vote those cynical politicians out of office. (I'll never forget what a picture perfect weather day September 11th was when all that horror occured.)

Posted by: kindness | August 11, 2006 2:29 PM

A fine way to mark the day would be to celebrate the death or capture of Osama Bin Laden. But perhaps that would be asking too much of the current administration. After all, five years is hardly enough time to catch one guy.

Posted by: wg | August 11, 2006 2:33 PM

September 11, 2001 should be given the same respect and moment of rememberance as December 7, 1941. On both days the United States came under attack by a foreign enemy and should be remembered as such. Pearl Harbor has it's memorial to the souls who perished that day. A similar tribute should be paid to those who lost their lives on September 11.

Posted by: KP | August 11, 2006 3:12 PM

The only proper way to memorialize 9-11 is by sending this guy Ned Lamont and his Democratic fellow travellers back to France and rededicating ourselves to defeating those who would destroy us.

Posted by: KK | August 11, 2006 3:53 PM

"So my question is how do as a national properly memorialize the attacks on that day?"

Please learn to proofread.

Posted by: WB | August 11, 2006 4:23 PM

Um, Sept. 11 is already a holiday -- Patriot Day.

See this excerpt from a 2004 Bush proclamation:

"By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2004, as Patriot Day. I call upon the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, to display the flag at half-staff from their homes on that day, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001."

Bush issued a similar proclamation last year.

I guess Mr. Fisher had a memory lapse.

Posted by: Matt | August 11, 2006 4:30 PM

Celebrate 9/11 by scarfing a hot dog at 7/11!

Posted by: Hungry | August 11, 2006 5:30 PM

I should never be suprised at how low some ppl can go...but I still am.

Hungry, you are an a-hole.

Posted by: Choke on that dog | August 11, 2006 5:41 PM

In the first year after the attacks, when the question of whether or not September 11 should become a national holiday was being debated, one WTC widow said she hoped not. She feared that two generations from now, people would be rushing out to 9/11 sales at the local mall. Patriot Day? GWB is an idiot. I actively try to forget the things he says.

Posted by: No 50% off, please | August 11, 2006 6:18 PM


What happened? Did you run out of Wheaties and eat Grumpies for breakfast?

Is that your contribution today? To admonish the woman for leaving out a word?

WB, it's a blog, not a legal document. A blog is about one level above a grocery list or a post it. How much proofreading does it need?

Take Saturday and Sunday off, breathe deeply, and try to become a person next week.

Posted by: KK | August 11, 2006 6:22 PM


Valerie Strauss is posting on behalf of the Washington Post. The Washington Post employs editors who should be able to proofread documents that are published on behlaf of Washington Post.

BTW, let's analyze "leaving out a word?"

Ms. Strauss posted "So my question is how do as a national properly memorialize the attacks on that day?"

If you look closely (if you are able), you will see that the statement is not just missing a word. What one word would you insert in order to allow the state to be correct?

PS: I'm happy to see that you, and only you, know the only way to properly memorialize September 11.

Posted by: WB | August 11, 2006 9:08 PM


You know, GirlSpyTravel has a good point. Mothers who don't know what to tell their children should probably do the kids a favor and put them up for adoption so they can be raised by parents who do. Do you really think we should run the world according to whether a half-wit mother can explain it to her child?

Thank you GST for putting it so clearly.

Posted by: KK | August 10, 2006 06:55 PM"


This is from the previous chat. You have proven that you talk out of both sides of your mouth. What ever side you are on at the moment................

Posted by: WB | August 11, 2006 9:19 PM

"How does "what are the odds of finding a Jewish cop" qualify as "question of the week"? What is the relevance of how many Jews make a career of law enforcement?

I hope that "the creative dynamo" Valerie Strauss can do better than this during her two weeks as guest host.

Posted by: KK | August 2, 2006 11:33 AM"

Just putting it out there....
Have a nice weekend!

Posted by: WB | August 11, 2006 9:32 PM

I'm hanging out with the wrong crowd. I'm outta here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 11, 2006 11:25 PM


Have you stopped taking your medication again? Please call me Monday morning to discuss!

Posted by: Dr. Weinstein | August 12, 2006 7:11 AM

In my opinion, simple ceremonies in every town square would be more than appropriate. I lived in Washington on Sept 11,2001. I now live in a small Pennsylvania town. It wasn't until I moved back here that I realized just how much so many Americans take for granted. For example, in the town I live in now, it is common for the 3rd-generation welfare kids to be sitting on Main Street making plans to create the 4th generation. I think maybe we should use Sept 11 to try to remember the sacrifices made by others to make this country great and to try to get back on track to becoming what our forefathers had in mind when they declared their, and our, independence.

Posted by: John Moore, Ridgway PA | August 12, 2006 2:46 PM


Do you really believe the Post should hire proofreaders to edit blogs? Should they also catch your own misspellings, split infinitives, and missing words. How much do you think that would cost? I may be wrong about this, but I'm guessing that you work for FEMA.

And, yes, I do talk out of both sides of my mouth. All the time. Doesn't everyone? Why would you talk out of only one side, and how would you do it?

Posted by: KK | August 13, 2006 7:39 AM


I do not work for FEMA. So, yes, you are wrong! Care to guess again?

Posted by: WB | August 13, 2006 9:52 AM

WB -- Your denial doesn't fool any of us. Everyone who works at FEMA denies it. I've heard you all go by your initials and wear paper bags over your heads so you can't even identify each other. The FEMA staff roster three WB's. The question is not whether you work there, but which bag is you: Safeway, Giant, or Piggly Wiggly.

Posted by: KK | August 13, 2006 9:17 PM

Both of you really need to get a life. Seriously.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | August 14, 2006 8:56 AM


You're right, but you stopped short. I think anyone who has time to post to these blogs -- including you -- ought to look into getting a life.

Posted by: KK | August 14, 2006 9:45 AM

I'll agree to participate in some sort of commemoration of September 11 when Bush and his minions agree that they will never again refer to it for political purposes.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 12:11 PM

A Democrat president would have made 9/11 a holiday too. And the dems use the day for their political puropses as well. Get off your high horse.

Posted by: unashamed gop girl | August 14, 2006 12:51 PM

Since they keep telling us that the best way to beat terrorism is to go about life normally, I'll watch Mr. Tony on 'Monday Night Football' this Sept. 11.

Personally, I'm more worried about common criminals than terrorists anyway. We don't know when the next terrorist attack is. We do know that crime happens every day.

Posted by: MNF | August 14, 2006 3:37 PM

One word: Propaganda!!

Posted by: Power | August 14, 2006 4:06 PM

I'm thirsty.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2006 6:13 PM

I say we build a memorial to political pandering - perhaps an abstract sculpture of a politician standing atop a burning building, straining mightily to kiss his own arse.

Posted by: Alan Jackson | August 16, 2006 12:32 PM

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