Commemorating Anniversaries

9/11 Pentagon REMEMBERToday, as you’ve doubtless realized, is the 8th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and the thwarted attack on a destination we’ll likely never know.  It is, for those of us too young to recall the JFK assassination or Pearl Harbor, the most significant public event of our lifetimes.  We’ll all remember “where we were when.”

At what point, I wonder, do we stop commemorating the anniversary, especially those that aren’t multiples of ten or twenty-five?

Obviously, we do Independence Day every July 4th. But that’s about it. Pearl Harbor usually gets a mention but we don’t do much about it anymore.  Most Americans couldn’t tell you when VE or VJ Day are; many couldn’t tell you what they are.  Few now remember the Maine or the Alamo.   Armistice Day has long since given way to Veterans Day, which itself has long since mostly been just another Monday holiday.

We’ll obviously make a big to-do about the 10th anniversary of 9/11 come 2011.  Will we do so with the 11th?  12th?  13th?  At some point, this day will be just another day for those not personally affected.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex says:

    It seemed the last Administration made it very clear that we should “never forget” because 9/11 was the justification for about every civil and human rights violation they committed. This is the first 9/11 under Obama, I’ll be curious to see how the next four (8?) 9/11 anniversaries play out, and if the significance becomes lessened, or at least less shoved in our faces.

  2. JKB says:

    Well, before we go to writing off the remembrance perhaps we ought to fill in the hole the attack left. Right now we have little but government inefficiency and empty promises which is more a memorial to how the attacks slipped our defenses rather than the dead.

    Then, of course, our enemy is still viable and active in the field so remembering also keeps us sharp to the current dangers.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    I don’t know; I still keep getting invited to a Guy Fawkes party every year by a legal immigrant expatriate friend. That’s only been over 400 years.

    Remember remember the fifth of November
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
    Should ever be forgot…

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    I don’t really see anything being “shoved in our faces”. It was a terrible day and more terrible for the thousands who lost loved ones.

    In hindsight I see our response as measured and reasonable. The claim of civil and human rights abuses are overblown and our country has handled itself with dignity. We didn’t kill hundred of Muslims or throw them out of the country. In fact we became more sensitive to other cultures and moved forward as only a great country like ours can.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    We didn’t kill hundred of Muslims or throw them out of the country. In fact we became more sensitive to other cultures and moved forward as only a great country like ours can.

    We also tortured unknown numbers of Muslims and locked up and detained many more, some of whom may or may not be terrorists. We became so sensitive to the fear of terrorist attacks that we moved backwards by practicing activities that no great country like ours should ever practice…

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    A differing point of view would be we interrogated terrorists and locked many up leading to a safer country. Our realization of the threat brought us to be more cautious.

    We have behaved admirably by any objective measure.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Oh yes, that differing point of view that uses the lovely euphemism “interrogation” to describe torture…very admirable…

  8. Observer says:

    Steve,

    How is invading a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the attacks against the United States “admirable”?

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Observer,

    Violating U.N. sanctions was reason enough. A secondary reason of establishing democracy is likely to yield good results. Let’s see, who else went into Iraq with us? Yeah there were other countries that went.

    I wonder if the Iraqi people are glad we invaded and rid them of Saddam?

    AIP,

    I’m not posting for your admiration. Bad guys have bad things happen to them when caught. We didn’t kill them. We didn’t pull out their finger nails. We didn’t permanently disfigure them. What we did was put on our big boy pants and let serious men do what needed to be done to save lives. That is admirable.

    It wasn’t torture but it was damn close. If you are going to draw a line and people get close but don’t cross it is that wrong? Are these people at fault for doing something that makes us squeamish? The line drawers are at fault, not those who did the job.

    Believe it or not guys most Americans still believe as I do.

  10. Spoker says:

    And when something like 9/11 happens again but instead of thousands, hundreds of thousands loose their lives, will we continue to play word games about interrogation vs. torture? How many need to die before doing an odious job to protect a far greater number is not necessarily desirable, but neither is it prosecutable? How many need to die at the hands of a zealot before eliminating that zealot is preferable to burying an ever growing pile of caskets?

    Thank goodness there remain some that are willing to do what needs to be done to allow the idealists the opportunity to talk in platitudes, live in safety and preach in peace.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    And when something like 9/11 happens again but instead of thousands, hundreds of thousands loose their lives, will we continue to play word games about interrogation vs. torture? How many need to die before doing an odious job to protect a far greater number is not necessarily desirable, but neither is it prosecutable? How many need to die at the hands of a zealot before eliminating that zealot is preferable to burying an ever growing pile of caskets?

    Except that torture hasn’t prevented any attacks, and the fact that the United States tortures Muslims has been used by al-Qaida and others successfully to recruit people …

  12. Observer says:

    Steve,

    I wonder if the Iraqi people are glad we invaded and rid them of Saddam?

    I take it you don’t read Iraqi blogs then. Or notice that the most popular Iraqi politicians are the ones who want Americans to go away.

    Spoker,

    Thank goodness there remain some that are willing to do what needs to be done to allow the idealists the opportunity to talk in platitudes, live in safety and preach in peace.

    Thank goodness? Spoker, in your world, there is no “goodness” — just utilitarian calculation. No rights, just “greatest happiness for the greatest number.” No morality, just “whatever the State says is best.” No freedom, just safety.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    re: Steve Plunk | September 11, 2009 | 05:00 pm

    I could care less why you post, but it is disingenuous to try to whitewash actions taken by our government…and who knew that putting on big boy pants and letting “serious” men do what supposedly had to be done to save lives meant waterboarding people…oh but that’s right! Waterboarding doesn’t permanently disfigure (well, physically anyway), so I guess it doesn’t have to be considered torture!

    Believe it or not guys most Americans still believe as I do.

    Indeed, fear makes a lot of people believe things they wouldn’t otherwise…

  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    Except that torture hasn’t prevented any attacks, and the fact that the United States tortures Muslims has been used by al-Qaida and others successfully to recruit people …

    others? lol, you mean liberals to get voters?

  15. Torrey says:

    Violating U.N. sanctions was reason enough. A secondary reason of establishing democracy is likely to yield good results.

    I wonder when the US will invade Israel then…