If you have any presence on the internet, chances are you’ve seen graphic, emotion-evoking photos and videos circulating on social media about 9/11. Their captions urge “Never Forget!” and compel you to take a brief moment of silence to commemorate all the lives lost, families shattered, and nationwide destruction left behind it’s wake. You may have even seen post cards and emails “Remembering 9/11” floating around the office or at school, or more admirably, your workplace or school instituted an official memorial day. Here’s why you should forget 9/11, and why all the people who lost lives or loved ones don’t matter.
All Hail the Red, White and Blue
“Red flows in a river of blood to a tree, fed by sacrifice of those who hold dear liberty. White is our honor, forever intact, an immaculate conscience known for a fact. Blue is the water to the east and west, hiding untold riches beneath sapphire depths…” – Joshua Galt, an Ode to Glory for The American Flag
In 1898, The U.S. invades the Philippines with one motive: greed for riches. Successfully taking their land by violent force, the U.S. attack on the Philippines left 600,000 people dead. Keep reading.
In the 1950s during the Korean War, the U.S. bombs Pyongyang, Korea. The bombing was described as the most vicious attack ever seen in Asia. It wiped out 20% of the population, and as Dean Rusk, former secretary of state described, America bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every person, every brick…” But that wasn’t enough. To further demonstrate its strength, the United States continued the bombings over the course of 3 years, effectively wiping out hydroelectric and irrigation dams, farmland, crops, and residential homes. A move which succeeded in driving the country to near starvation. A battle to keep its citizens fed that North Korea still fights today.
In 1960, the U.S. invades Vietnam. In what later was described as the longest war in American history, the U.S. left behind 1 million – yes 1,000,000 people dead in its wake, and continued to threaten the country with atomic bombs for a year after.
Just 9 years later, the U.S. invades Cambodia. Launching an attack that killed 2 million people and left Cambodia starved and in an state of utter political chaos.
In 1989, the same year I was born, the U.S. attacked Panama to squash a newly formed nationalist government. The attack left 29,000 people dead.
And who can forget the infamous and devastating atomic bomb attack on Japan at Hiroshima – which not only left hundreds of thousands dead, but so damaged its population that in 2016, its natives and nearby populations are still being born with genetic defects and crippling abnormalities due to leftover radiation. Or the U.S.’s rich history of slavery and mass genocide against its black citizens and natives, or the Iraqi war which was later discovered to be unfounded. A war that spanned years, leaving thousands dead, and cost the U.S. government over $800 billion dollars – a debt that ruined the economy, costs hundreds of thousands of people their jobs and livelihoods, and left America’s own citizens riddled with poverty and homelessness.
You may read this and say, “the U.S. had its reasons for attacking other countries.” Often it was hatred and greed. And even for the reasons that were not, the terrorists who attacked our country on 9/11 had their reasons, too. We cry about the day 15 years ago in our history, when the U.S. was silently invaded by its own immigrant citizens and attacked. Yet, the U.S. has made the largest number of violent invasions to other countries in the history of the world – a fact which was once offered to be placed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Our government of course, politely declined. In fact, there are only 3 countries in the entire world that the United States has not attacked or had military involvement with in any way. 3. Let that sink in. Remembering 9/11 is the classic school kid crying that he was punched in the stomach, while simultaneously forgetting he was just beating the pulp out of Johnny behind the class bookshelf last week and stealing his lunch.
Remembering 9/11 is blatantly disrespectful to others who had their lives destroyed due to senseless violence and sheer hate at worst, and disgustingly hypocritical at best. Do you really Remember 9/11 to show compassion for other humans? Or is it to only show compassion for yourself and humans who are like you? Do the lives lost and pain caused to other people who are different than you not matter? Should we forget their suffering? According to America, yes. We should. The attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 did happen. And people got hurt. We lost trust in immigrants – who we once viewed as welcome and positive additions to our society. People died. Children were forced to live without fathers or mothers or both. Wives and husbands lost spouses. Parents lost their children. We lost faith in our government’s ability to protect us. Everything in our lives as Americans was changed forever as we knew it. 15 years ago on September 11th, we saw our own humanity. We saw just how short and precious life really is. We learned that it can be gone in an instant. And most of all, we learned that human compassion still existed. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, our country united and rallied behind each other like never before, and in such a way that has never been seen again. And that is something to remember. We should never forget 9/11… but only as long as we never forget our country’s history, too. Don’t say it’s impossible. There are ways.
Australia celebrates National Sorry Day, a government holiday that for the past 18 years, apologizes to generations of mixed-race children taken from their families by the Australian government for “racial assimilation” and takes a moment to recognize and remember their suffering
In 2005, the National Sorry Day Committee renamed Sorry Day as a National Day of Healing for all Australians, but when asked how long will Australia continue to apologize for its past, Australian Senator, Aden Ridgeway replied, “For however long it takes.” National Sorry Day is one example. There are several others. It sounds ridiculous to only allow yourself to feel your hurt by remembering the hurt you caused others. Saying, “But I didn’t do it!” doesn’t cut it. If you’re reading this, you didn’t die in 9/11 either. You or someone you knew lost their life or had their life destroyed during these attacks, or someone you don’t know at all did. Yet, you still choose to feel compassion for them or yourself. You still choose to care. Choose to care about the suffering heaped on others by the U.S., too. True compassion isn’t selective. Otherwise, you’re just faking it. And no one believes you but yourself and those who are faking it with you. And if you’re faking compassion for another life, the only thing you’re telling us all is that that life doesn’t really matter. As we learned on that fateful day on September 11, 2001, it only takes one person to live and act in a way that persuades others to live and act in the same. You can be that one person who sways the way of life and one’s actions for a good cause. Be the change we so desperately need to see in our world. Be the change we need to see in our nation.