…it seems strange to me to bestow honor on people who were random victims of targeted violence. Taken from the perspective of most of the souls who died that day, the attacks were no different than what might have obtained in an earthquake or tsunami. They were unfortunate to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, indeed, but we don’t erect memorials to the victims (except maybe a few markers here and there) and hold services on the anniversaries of natural disasters in order to celebrate the unwitting sacrifice of the victims. We strive to get past them. The only “victims” of the attack worthy of memorialization weren’t victims at all–they were the first responders and flight 93 passengers who bravely and heroically gave their all in trying to mitigate the disaster for others.
Further, I don’t get the impulse to memorialize an attack that amounted to a defeat. Isn’t this exactly what the attackers would have hoped? That the expression of their murderous rage would be so significant and successful that the US would never really get over it?
In any event, if we are to honor and memorialize the victims of the attack, then we should at least honor and memorialize the most important victim of all, the US Constitution. The terrorists didn’t kill it. We did. It lingered on for a few years afterward, on life support after the cancer of the Patriot Act gained purchase on its soul, but when the President of the United States started ordering assassinations of US citizens on his own whim and nobody cared–not the Judicial or Legislative branches of government, or even the general public, the Constitution had gasped its last.
We are no longer a nation of law if our law says no citizen shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without the due process of law, and yet allow one man to decide on his whim, without recourse, who in the nation lives and who dies.
Twelve years later and the terrorist victory is more or less complete. It would have taken great courage for the American constitutional republic to adhere to the tenets of its founding covenants in the face of such a murderously successful, but still substantially inconsequential, attack on its way of life. Time has proved the republic not up to the task.
Our memorialization should take the tenor of a lamentation for the courage and resolve we failed to assert to protect the covenant comprising the essence of who we are.