Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Honor Code

If you're like me, you probably take national holidays for granted. It's not a conscious igging of the merit or foundation of the holiday. But when you work a full-time job and have a full-time life (i.e. kids, hobbies, obligations, whatever) a holiday quickly becomes one of those "aah, no work tomorrow," kind of deals.

In my lifetime (so far) only one new National holiday has been created, Martin Luther King Day.

I remember the March on Washington where Stevie Wonder sang his tribute to Dr. King, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, because my parents took me to DC that day. The Mall was shoulder-to-shoulder people. And I remember it being hotter than July (no pun intended, Stevie) and complaining about being thirsty.

It didn't strike me, at the time, that this was about forcing the government and society to acknowledge that Dr. King deserved a holiday like veterans, dead presidents and the birth of our nation. Yes, literally, this was history being made.

My parents would keep me out of school on Dr. King's birthday as a sort of thumbing their nose at the system. Back then, on that day, we'd sit around and talk about civil rights and the progress African Americans had made. And of course, all while Stevie blared in the background.

We really did hone in on the day. It wasn't just me being out of school outside playing. I was home and I knew exactly why.

Finally years later, the holiday was made official.

Yet, now, I do the same thing on Dr. King's birthday as I do any other holiday. I sit on my butt and try to soak in the precious moments I have away from the rat race.

A part of me feels a little guilt - after all, I was sort of part of the "struggle" to make the holiday official - but most of me is just grateful to have the day off.

So, tonight, as I sat bawling watching A&E's movie, FLIGHT 93, about the passengers who brought the fourth hijacked plane down in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11th, I started thinking about how I felt about making September 11th some sort of holiday.

What is the code when it comes to honoring a great or tragic moment or persons in history? Is marking everything a holiday really the best way to remind us of the original essence of that day?

I recall discussion about a 9-11 holiday being batted about in '02 or '03. But I never followed up on it. Then tonight the whole concept hit me over the head.

My eyes are puffy and red and my nose aches from wiping it so much. I pretty much cried throughout the entire movie. A first for me.

I've been known to cry at a movie or two. Hell even at old episodes of M.A.S.H. and a few commercials always sock me in the heart too.

But watching FLIGHT 93 was different. It took me back to that day.

I watched the events unfold on television like the rest of the world. And I was as obsessed as the next person for those 24-36 hours, watching the horrible scenes over and over again.

Watching the movie and seeing it dramatized based on transmissions from the plane, phone calls from passengers and control tower re-enactments just kept my tear ducts on full.

And after I wiped my last tear, the first thing that sprang to mind was - how do you mark a day like that?

I don't know the answer. But I do know how I feel about making it a National holiday. No. Un-ah. We shouldn't do it.

I'm not saying that to disrespect the lives lost. Not at all. I'm saying it, because I know no matter how much we say we'll pay homage to those lives on September 11th, we won't.

It will become another day off from the grind.

We're an overworked, under played society. We could use a whole lot more family and siesta time and less Blackberry while we're at our kids soccer game moments. But that's on us to make right.

I hope someone does come up with a way to pay tribute to the victims of 9-11.

I hope it's something that makes us stop and think and ponder the fragility of life. Maybe even make us slow down a little. It can be done. It should be done.

But not as a vacation day.


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