The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the other moderators or members of the Christianity Without The Insanity community. – Mr. O.
I remember 9-11, 2001. I was working a sucky minimum wage job after getting laid off from the phone company where I was a software engineer. The post Y2K fallout put a lot of us tech types out of work and we took anything to make ends meet.
My commute was long, way too long for minimum wage, so, of course, I had the radio on. They cut in on the music to say a plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. It had just happened and things being what they were in 2001, no one knew at the time even what kind of plane it was. The local radio folks speculated it was a little plane and not many people were hurt.
By the time I got to work at the big-box store the news was on every TV. We learned the details as they came in. It was a big plane. There was fire and smoke. Soon they were non-stop broadcasting a live feed of the towers.
And we watched as the second plane hit the south tower.
Our boss sent us all home right after that. He said he was closing the store and we needed to be with our families.
I got home to my homeschooling wife, always the teacher, telling the kids what was happening in calm tones. We watched together as they reported about the Pentagon. There were images of people jumping from the top of the towers. And then they fell.
And then they fell. First one, then the other.
And like every American, we wondered what would happen. We thought of those that died, and we prayed and we went to church that night because we didn’t know what else to do. And we heard about the firemen and the police and so many others that saved so many, yet so few.
And time passed. And there was war. And another war. Neither, it turned out, was directly related to the attacks on that day.
And time passed.
Now, here we are, 15 years later. We’re still reeling from the events of that day, in spite of the rebuilding. Our children, if they remember at all, have only vague memories and old images on TV. Freshmen in high school will study the events as something that happened before they were born.
And we remember. We remember the day with sadness, displays of patriotism, remembrances of those lost, the firemen and police and civilians. But also veterans for some reason, though the wars came later.
And that brings me to my unpopular opinion.
I respect and honor veterans. There’s a history in my family dating back to the Revolutionary war. Men and women in my family served and continue to serve. And they deserve respect. Especially those fallen.
But here’s the rub. And this is where I may lose followers and even make some enemies….
War is not a patriotic act. Not every soldier is “fighting for our freedom”. In fact, I will say that no soldier has fought for our freedom since World War II.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the soldiers themselves are not willing to fight for our freedom, I’m not saying they’re not doing their patriotic duty. What I’m saying is that since the invention of the nuclear weapon, there hasn’t been a need to fight for our freedom. I am saying that Korea, Vietnam, and just about every military action that came after WWII has NOT been about freedom. No matter how ‘patriots’ want to romanticize military service, to insist that we stand during the national anthem to ‘honor’ veterans, and a whole list of other demands, US military actions since the middle of the 20th century have been more about politics, land, oil, and a lot of other things.
Just not about freedom.
And I think it’s wrong to insist that 9-11 be made another military ‘holiday’. Honor those lost. Remember the acts of terrorism. But don’t romanticize the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq as some great patriotic act. We know now that neither country was directly involved in the acts of 9-11 and we’ve spent thousands of lives and trillions of dollars not just on the acts of war, but on making reparations for our hasty invasions, for our need for revenge.
And now we have more terror. Isis lurks around every corner – an organization (if you can call it that) that was birthed directly because of our actions in the middle east.
We messed up. And unless we admit that, unless we stop worshiping the war dead and making patriotism our national religion, unless we stop glorifying the mistakes of our collective past, we can’t move on, move ahead and listen to each other.
This year, 9-11 is Sunday. You might be reading this after the fact, but as I write this, there are hundreds on my facebook timeline insisting that as our National Anthem is played before the football games players and others currently participating in the protest started by the 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick be FORCED to stand, rather than sit or kneel as is the form of their protest. Because veterans deserve the respect on ‘their’ day.
9-11 is not ‘their’ day. It’s not anyone’s day. It’s a day of mourning. Of remembering. But it’s not Veteran’s Day. Or Memorial Day. Or Flag Day, or 4th of July, or any other day we’ve chosen to ‘worship’ veterans.
We need to stop the cycle. We need to stop glorifying war-time military service. Honor those who served as is appropriate, yes, but not in excess, not to the degree that everything is about veterans.
The flag is not about veterans. The National Anthem is not about veterans. 9-11 is not about veterans. The first amendment is not about veterans. Nor is the second, nor any of the rest. (The second is all anyone cares to talk about these days.)
The most honorable thing we can do for current and deceased veterans on 9-11 is work to not make any more war vets.
My unpopular opinion may be mine to share because of the freedom I have, and there are events in this country’s past that were acts of protecting and creating that freedom. But my unpopular opinion is that none of those acts have happened in my lifetime. Nor my parents’. And 9-11, especially, should not be used as an excuse to romanticize war and make excuses to squash the freedoms we claim veterans have served and died to protect.