Jewish World Review August 30, 2002 / 22 Elul, 5762

Greg Crosby

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How Best to Commemorate the First Anniversary of Sept 11, 2001 | If you haven't seen enough footage of the Twin Towers coming down, if you haven't heard enough back-stories of the people who were killed, if you haven't watched enough rock and roll singers and movie stars paying their respects, if you haven't cried enough tears, then stay tuned ... this coming September 11th is for you.

There will be memorials...lots of memorials. Every radio and television channel will be honoring those who died last year. The networks will be doing 9-11 shows all day and all night. The cable channels will be going around the clock too. Every single station will be doing something, the Food Network, Court TV, MTV, Turner Classic Movies -- when I say every channel, I mean every channel.

Every American city (and most major foreign cities) will be holding some sort of commemoration. There'll be marches, parades, testimonials, candlelight precessions, and moments of silence. There'll be fireworks and stirring patriotic songs. Drivers are being asked to turn on their headlights on the anniversary of that fateful morning. Politicians from the President to township councilmen will be all over the place giving speeches and unveiling memorials.

When I typed "September 11 Anniversary" on the Google Internet search, it listed no less than 1,050,000 web sites! You have no idea the scope of 9-11 celebratory events. Every agency in the federal government has something going, not to mention all state and local governments. There are church memorials planed, Jewish memorials, Islamic memorials, even atheist memorials. Homosexual, lesbian and transgenered activities will be held to honor those homosexual, lesbian and transgenered victims of 9-11.

Celebrities will be doing more specials to honor the victims and the victims' families. Music videos, symphony orchestras, poetry readings and sing-a-longs. There will be even more money collected for the families of the victims (when will there be enough, already?). We will see photos of the victims again. Hear their tragic stories again. We will remember the heroes and honor them again. People will cry again. We are in danger, actually, of drowning in our own tears. Remember September 11th? Has anyone in the world ever stopped remembering? It's good to remember, but maybe it's time to stop crying.

We have just had a massive media blitz in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's "death day." This is a relatively new phenomenon. Yes, we have remembered Pearl Harbor on December 7th for decades, but we never embraced it to the extent that we embrace anniversaries of "death days" now. Thanks in part to television, we have become a society that wallows in it's tragedies. Even good intentions can be overdone.

Meanwhile, we get closer to expanding our war on the Islamic terrorists that attacked us one year ago. Vice President Cheney has made it clear that the administration is preparing to liberate Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein. It's about time. In order to destroy terrorist networks like al Qaeda we need to overthrow the regimes that support them. As long as there are terrorist states like Iraq, Iran and Syria -- governments that harbor, train, and encourage terrorists -- we can never expect to completely succeed in our war against terror. The terrorists need to live somewhere -- we must do what is necessary to severely limit their housing options.

If we really want to honor the memory of those who were incinerated last year we need to do something truly spectacular -- something that not only shows proper respect for their lives, but also sends a message to the world that all of America has taken their deaths extremely personally. Yes, we need to do something spectacular.

Do we sing patriotic songs? Do we shoot off fireworks? Do we wave millions of American flags? Do we light 3,000 candles? Do we release 3,000 doves? Do we walk outside and hold hands with our neighbors? Do we weep collectively along with the victims' families? No -- none of the above.

We've sung a year's worth of patriotic songs -- we finally know most of them by heart now. We've flown our flags from our homes, our cars, and our businesses until they became tattered and frayed -- then we bought more. We've worn our flag pins on our lapels and our hearts on our sleeves. We've heard the stories of horror and heroism. We've praised the firemen, the police, the military. We've given money to help the victims. We've gotten mad at the terrorists. We've cried and cried and cried. We've cried enough now.

So how best to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on September 11, 2001? How about with a triple-header -- simultaneous bombings of Baghdad, Damascus, and Teheran on September 11, 2002?

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby