Here in the United States, September 11th is now known as Patriot Day. Patriot Day was instituted by President George W. Bush (and an act of Congress) in 2002 to memorialize the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place on this date the previous year.
Most people in this country refer to this day simply as "nine-eleven" or 9/11, and unfortunately, spend entirely too much time talking about the attacks that occurred on this day, nine years ago. Why do I say too much time?, because compared to the numbers of innocent deaths that were caused by the attacks, the United States has more than amply taken it's pound of flesh in retribution.
The attacks of September 11th, 2001, instigated two wars in which nearly six thousand (and counting) American service men and women have been killed; wars in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of allied service men have been killed, wars in which uncounted thousands… even hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, continuing to this day. Well, I don't know about you… but none of this makes me feel particularly patriotic.
I started thinking about how I should mark Patriot Day, because I don't think that there is any really good reason for waving the flag on a day that has no meaning other than a commemoration of the death of thousands of people, so I did what I normally do when I need to work things out… I wrote.
Being patriotic comes naturally to me… Love of country and service to the same run long and deep in my family, but to me, patriotism means more than jingoism, so I decided that not only would I not be doing any flag-waving, I would do what comes naturally when I think about doing what is good for my country. So I spent September eleventh like I spend most of my days: I spent money on things that were made in the United States, because spending our money at home is good for our economy; I spent the day with my family, because family is what we are… or should be what we are all about; I cheered for my daughter's soccer team as they pummeled another team in their season opener, because athleticism and competitiveness are good and healthy things; and I drove my American-made car, because I believe in buying American when I can.
Do you know what I didn't do on Patriot Day? I didn't support the liars, racists, and myth-makers that propagate stupidity by accusing the President of the United States of being a Muslim (or a socialist, or a foreigner). On Patriot Day, I didn't spend one single minute grousing about my taxes (which pay for our wars and for so many of the things that people in this country want and need). I didn't talk about our loss of freedom, because there has been no loss of freedom in this country since this President came to power… the loss of certain freedoms happened on the watch of the previous President (the one that founded Patriot Day. See the Patriot Act). Do you know what else I didn't do on Patriot Day? I didn't try to deny the right of any Americans to build a house of worship. Neither did I ram the cars of some of the other parents at my daughter's soccer game… those foreign-made cars which were sporting those stupid "Don't Tread on Me" stickers so popular with the Glenn Beck crowd. I didn't do any of those things, because I don't believe that those are things that a patriot should do.
The last thing that I did for Patriot Day was to pray. I prayed for my family, my friends and coworkers, and the victims… all of the victims of war, and other senseless violence, and I prayed for peace. I did this not only because prayer is a regular part of my daily life, and not only because praying for peace is a good thing, but because I have the freedom to practice my faith as I see fit, as long as it doesn't impinge on the rights of others to practice their own faith, or to not practice a faith of any sort. That too, is Patriotic.