I would like to begin by saying the above cartoon does not necessarily depict the opinion of the Baker Orange editorial board or the Orange staff. I was asked to write a column this week. Instead, I created this cartoon.
Monday, on the five-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, United States citizens had little to celebrate. Aside from some successes in capturing terrorist network leaders, my country has accomplished little. After just five years, none of the patriotic surge that followed 9-11 lingers. It has faded because the United States, after two wars, civil right infringements and war-time prison scandals, has not given its citizens anything to rally behind. A pool of apathy now begins to fill that void of patriotism.
Certainly, the Stars and Stripes waved fervently across news networks Monday. ESPN observed the anniversary during its Monday Night Football coverage. But what notice of the five-year anniversary did your friends observe? Did you observe? Did I?
My country's home soil was attacked by angry, misguided men, and many died. Five years later, another 3,000 people have died: American soldiers sent into vengeful combat. I have seen 9-11 replayed on TV again and again, the planes exploding like cymbals signaling the start of an orchestral crescendo of invasions, violence and political spin. Politicians have mutated 9-11 into a rallying cry to serve themselves while they ignore a shamefully glaring oversight. Five years after the attacks, the Ground Zero crater lays exposed, as Keith Olbermann railed against Monday.
"Five years later this country's wound is still open. Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked. Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op ... And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution," Olbermann said.
In only five years, many Americans don't recognize 9-11 as we should, and we have squandered the unity we shared in the wake of suffering. What will this pivotal moment in American history mean in another five years? Will it become a revered national holiday? A yearly time for reflection on foreign policy? Or will it simply become another vague excuse for a three-day weekend?