Fly the Flag


Last week I received an email that told me that:

“On Monday, September 11th, 2006, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this fifth anniversary of our country’s worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.”

I have to confess that I deleted it. I’m not one for these email chain letter things. My first instinct whenever I read one is to Google it and see if it is a hoax. I know that the email above is not a hoax. It is trying to find a way to honor those who died on September 11. But I don’t think that we do that by taping a flag to our office window. Just as I don’t see how we support our troops by sticking “ribbons” to the backs of our cars. I’ve always wondered where those things come from. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they were made by some Al-Qaeda manufacturing arm? Those guys would be laughing themselves silly as they cranked out another 100 million pieces.

I love America . . . I used to be able to finish that statement with “and all that it stands for” but considering our reputation around the world right now I can’t really go that far. I feel ambivalent about America and the flag. I feel that if I display a flag I’m saying that I’m proud of my country and all that is doing and that is not true.

How are you going to observe this September 11th? I’m far enough away from it this year that the anniversary isn’t freaking me out as much as it has in the past.(Click here to read about where I was on that day.) Maybe I’ll try to do something for one of these groups this year?

The first year anniversary was very rough. I was 5 months pregnant and stayed home from work in the city. G and I drove around trying to find a church service we could attend. We wanted to be around other people on that day. We ended up sitting in an empty Reformed Church nearby. The Minister came out and talked to us a little bit. It was another gorgeous day – sparkling and clear, just like that day. The beautiful day felt sinister to me. Much like the sunny weather we had in the weeks following that day. On the first Thursday we had a rainstorm in the middle of the night. G and I were awoken by booming thunder that sounded like bombs. When I heard the rain pouring down all I could think of was the firefighters we still thought were trapped underneath the rubble. I worried that they would drown in the water. Of course, it would turn out that there wasn’t anyone there. I think I still think about it every day. There are reminders everywhere. Yesterday P and I went to the local pizzaria – the owner has pictures and statues of little pizza chefs displayed right next to his “Never Forget”/burning WTC towers posters.

Right after September 11th I would find myself obsessively reading the Portraits in Grief that the NY Times would publish each day. They were 1 or 2 paragraph portraits that attempted to highlight each WTC victim’s life through small details about them. I felt that if I missed reading one I was letting that person’s life pass by without my notice and I wanted to take notice of them. I didn’t want to let them down.


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