"2009: When World Trade Towered."
Chris Hanley: Year Eight.
Since Tuesday, September 11, 2001, this is the first anniversary to fall on a Friday. In 2002, it fell on a Wednesday, in 2003 a Thursday, in 2004 a Saturday, in 2005 a Sunday, in 2006 a Monday, in 2007 a Tuesday, in 2008 a Thursday and now, it is Friday, September 11, 2009.
We celebrate so many events that were originally established to memorialize those whose lives were lost due to national circumstances. The three which stand out are Memorial Day, Veterans Day and MLK Day. The mission that cut into our national consciousness deep enough so that congress made the last Monday in May a national holiday has been glazed-over so many times, perhaps like a pearl that it is now stands as the official kickoff weekend to Summer. It's time to party. Veterans Day has been turned into a day to shop for bargains.
MLK Day is not universally celebrated. Some choose to intentionally defy it, though whether they know it or not, their intentional ignorance of the meaning of the day is acknowledgement of its relevance. If you have never been to a MLK celebration you are truly missing out on one of America's most precious ceremonial events. It's one of those rare opportunities when we see first-hand the colorful exuberance of the King's children of God. It is a day for those to pause and hear King's last public words spoken, "Free at Last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty we are free at last."
We thankfully live in an era where the most obvious signs of racist repression are gone. There are no more separate "but equal" bathrooms and no more signs that read, "No Coloreds Allowed." When we watch our national pastime and virtually all sports, they are excellently played by people with a diversity of skin color who is its leaders, and sometimes our heroes.
There are hardly any "firsts" anymore. Hardly though that that mean there is no more work to be done. It doesn't take a cultural anthropologist to see the remnants of slavery in the structural poverty and lack of opportunity that persists in this country. Yet, we now have an African American president and a female wise Latin female on the Supreme Court.
Labor Day is probably the most worn-out of holidays. It is damned as being the semi-sweet end of summer. Party's over. Back to school. Back to work; that is if you can find some. Not much to celebrate these days for sure.
To people of our generation, it is 9/11 versus any make-believe event like New Years which warns us that another year has gone by. The irony of American culture is that when we establish a holiday to distinguish a person, a thing or an idea, shortly after that day is officiated, it gives us permission to ignore it. I hope we never make 9/11 a holiday. It's a day that few if any look forward to. And when it's here, most do what they can to get through the day without getting bogged down by the sudden, sullen, sadness that 'Nine Eleven" signifies.
It's hard to imagine that it's been a year since 9/11 was here last. The last 365 days seems to have been the global culmination of what happened from that day when the world changed, forever.
Back then, the national call to show our "patriotism" immediately afterwards was to go out and spend. And spend we did. The last 8 years have been so catastrophically mis-managed financially that we find ourselves weighted down by the bill we are now paying economically for that event on a global scale. In too many cases that "solution" has been the very thing that has foreclosed down too many homes in a silent, yet equally violent way that fell our precious twin towers.
And we still must swallow the reality that the mastermind of 9/11 has the freedom of life and speech to send out a righteous "middle-fingered" videotaped message of arrogance, which we have been obviously powerless to silent.
We are in year 2009, but based on the WTC calendar it is Year Eight. People sing Auld Lang Syne at the count of 12 midnight on the evening of December 31st, with a touch of relief, remorse and hope that the next 12 months will be better than the last. New Years is a day where we breathe deeply.
Nine-Eleven is a day when we hold our breath.
See "Hanley, Alive & Well in Our Hearts" for more on Mr. Hanley.