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Monday, July 07, 2008

Devaluing Heroism

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

At some point in our society those who would reduce us to less than we should strive to be have somehow managed to gain control over how we will view and remember the reactions of the common citizen to times of great stress or peril. Thus the memorial that has "won" the competition for remembering 9/11/01 is more about them and their views of how the day should be remembered than it is about those who actually suffered and died on that day. To them, all that should be remembered is that people died. It is not important to know how they died, or even who they were, as that detracts from the central theme: They died.

Oh, and by the way, it was "our fault".

I have said this before elsewhere, and I will say it here.

What we should remember about 09/11/01 is not that they died, but that faced with situations beyond their imaginations striking out of a clear sky, ordinary men and women did their best to meet the challenge.

Were I to build the monument, it would simply be a four-sided stairway that ends. It would be peopled with statues. Some dressed as firemen climbing up the stairs, some dressed as policemen and paramedics at the base of the stairs, and some as those ordinary citizens coming down the stairs, some helping one another. For me, they would all be faceless statues, because there can never be enough to represent each individual who lost his life. But the showcase should still be on heroism, courage, sense of duty. The best things about the common citizen in facing disaster.

What we should remember is that there were citizens who helped each other rather than flee for their own lives. That firemen tried to reach the fire, to do their duty. That police officers tried to maintain order in the chaos and paramedics tried to evacuate the injured at risk of their own lives.

We should remember the heroism, and be inspired to rise to that example in our own lives.