I was approached by a new student, trumpet player, today. He asked about getting involved in music ministry. He asked about next weekend’s liturgy, and wondered about playing “Taps” at Mass.
I’m used to thinking on my feet. So it only took me a few seconds to suggest we haven’t any such plans for next weekend, but he was welcome to join any of our groups. Trumpet players: very good.
It got me thinking about 9/11 and why I’m not planning any personal observance of the tenth anniversary of those attacks.
Ten years ago, my family was just finishing up a very joyous reunion on the occasion of my aunt’s 80th birthday. It was a chance for most of my family to meet the young miss, who was just a few months away from being adopted. I spent most of 9/11 concerned about getting my wife and daughter home, especially across the Mississippi before something else happened. Along the way, a gas station gouged us at 2011 prices for a tank of fuel. We also enjoyed a 1974-style line at the pump. That experience has sort of presaged the post-9/11 experience, and why, as an ordinary American citizen, I don’t feel at ease celebrating a conflict that, from my perspective, I’ve lost.
I’m in worse shape financially than I was ten years ago. I’ve had to cash out a life insurance policy to buy a second home. This while I enjoy being five figures underwater on a home whose value my mortgage holders were all too happy to inflate a few short years ago. Thank goodness I didn’t bite on their best refi offer, or I’d be close to $100K underwater today.
Not only have war profiteers made out like bandits on big gas prices, but my credit card holder prances around the economy like an NFL player’s TD celebration. And they have company. I get a credit card offer about twice a week these days. Save the paper dues: it’s a colossal waste of your time. No way are they getting fifteen yards for excessive celebration, let alone a serious criminal investigation for fraud, racketeering, conspiracy, and just plain ol’ theft.
As a person who had many relatives and friends serve in the military, I count our valorous women and men in uniform as among the defeated. Defeated by “friendly fire” from their own corporate masters. They’ve been asked to serve repeated tours of duty without the institutional support they deserve from the rest of the country, and especially, their commander and overseers in the federal government. I may be a pacifist, but I can appreciate commitment and honor. I can also offer bitter criticism of the last two presidential administrations for mewling about keeping things normal on the home front while asking these soldiers and their families to make undue and probably needless sacrifices. Higher rates of suicide, divorce, and medical challenges inadequately supported by the Veterans Administration. And for what? So two presidents could have cheerleader moments for the mass media? No thanks to that.
So my fellow Americans will excuse me if I feel about as excited for observing 11 September 2011 in a way much different from, say, the Babylonian Exile. Practical unemployment somewhere about 16%. College graduate not getting jobs. Endless adventurism in southwest Asia. Diddling figureheads in the White House. Erosion of freedoms and civil liberties. Communists replaced by Muslims as fodder for scary bedtime stories.
I think I’ll pass on remembering 9/11 this year. It makes as much sense as celebrating my first F, the day my first college crush told me she was dating some other guy, or one of my bicycle thefts when I was in grad school.
Instead, let’s have a little inspiration from another dark time: