The question in my mind is: What should I never forget? I live in a community that lost people in the Pentagon. The damage and loss of life to the Pentagon was, of course, not as great as the twin towers in New York (184 in the Pentagon, 64 on the plane) The military very efficiently repaired the building and declared it completed exactly a year after the attack. An appropriate memorial was also built to honor those who lost their lives. The repairs and monument are all beautiful. The completion was accompanied by appropriate ceremonies. Everyone agreed that they would “never forget”.
There are a lot of things in world history that we are to “Never Forget”. There was a war between the Serbs and the Turks in 1389. The Turks won. In commemoration of that famous war (famous for the Serbs, that is) the Serbs periodically beat up on the Albanians – who, the Serbs claim, sided with the Turks. Historians tell us that the Albanians were, in fact, on the Serbs side. Oops! Well, 1389 was a long time ago. “Facts” become a bit fuzzy.
So, let’s come closer to the present. Remember the Alamo! Now, what was that about? Mexican President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (Santa Anna, to his friends) was not known to be a nice guy. The Texans, on the other hand, were keeping slaves, and Mexico by that time had outlawed slavery. Some of us feel that owning your fellow human being is not good — although the Old Testament, New Testament, and Koran unanimously agree that it is OK. So, then, let’s remember the Alamo but who’s side should we be on? Maybe it depends if you have religion or not — or simply would like to bring back slavery.
Remember the Maine! You remember, don’t you? That was the American battleship that suffered a boiler explosion. The Hurst Newspaper chain (the Fox News of the day) stirred up Americans to declare war on Spain.
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 my wife and I were invited by a friend to go to her Mosque to honor the victims.
Since September 11 was not a holy day in the Muslim calendar I was astounded at the turnout. It was huge! There were some politicians who were invited (the Governor, a state Senator, a number of Republicans and Democrats). The Muslim speakers included a former soldier who saw combat in Iraq. He was roundly applauded for his service to the United States.
Prayers were said for those who lost their lives in the attack. Unsurprisingly, the Muslim speakers implied that the 9/11 murderers were not “true” Muslims.
I can’t say that everything was upbeat. There was a young man in middle school who talked about the harassment that he had received. In general, however, I am glad that our Muslim community seems to feel that they are not outsiders. They are certainly not outsiders. I hope, also, that the non-Muslims of this community will always recognize that our neighbors who might attend a Mosque rather than Church or Synagogue have no desire to drive an airplane into our buildings and have no desire to have their kids do it. I think most do.
So what should we “Never forget”? We need to always honor the people who were killed. I know that we will do that. After that, however, it begins to get a bit fuzzy. Before we paint any group with a big brush we need to look inward. I was impressed that the Muslim US soldier was applauded for his service to the USA, when, toward the end of September, I read about a Republican political discussion group where one of the 2012 presidential candidates stated that he would bring back “don’t ask, don’t tell”. A young active duty soldier, who happened to be gay stood up to ask about that. The crowd of “Americans” booed him loudly. FOR SHAME! FOR SHAME!
Before we Americans start to criticize others, maybe we need to look more critically at ourselves!