Keep Faith with 9/11: Official Observances Must Not Obscure Day’s True Meaning

Thursday's Editorial   —   Posted on September 10, 2009

(from — By act of Congress and the signature of President Obama, the eighth anniversary of 9/11 will be America’s first officially designated National Day of Service and Remembrance.

How must this day unfold?

With reverence unsullied by politics or commerce.

With memory focused on the barbarity visited upon the United States.

With determination redoubled to protect the shores and defeat those who would murder again.

The concept of making service a hallmark of 9/11 anniversaries was championed by MyGoodDeed, an organization founded by family and friends of people killed in the attacks.

The group’s mission statement calls for honoring “the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging” good deeds and various volunteer activities.

“In this way we hope to create a lasting and forward-looking legacy – annually rekindling the spirit of service, tolerance, and compassion that unified America and the world in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks,” the statement says.

To reclaim the unity of purpose that gripped the nation when anger and grief were strong and resolve even stronger would be wondrous. If a burst of selflessness does the trick, count us in.

But there are dangers.

Acts of kindness are easily distorted into propaganda, issues advocacy and attempts to redefine 9/11 for political purposes. This cheapening has already happened, and in the most inappropriate place – the White House.

The Obama administration supports creating clean energy jobs in cities through a campaign called Green the Block, started by the groups Green For All and the Hip Hop Caucus. After cabinet officials met with leaders of the organizations in the West Wing, aides posted a video and a statement on the White House blog.

Van Jones, an Obama environmental adviser, said 9/11 would be an opportunity to “connect, to find other people in your peer group who are also passionate about repowering America but also greening up America and cleaning up America.” [Van Jones was forced to resign this week from his post as “green jobs czar” after information surfaced that he is a self-proclaimed communist, and also believes the U.S. government was responsible for or knowingly complicit in the September 11 attacks.]

And the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus said:

“The first milestone for Green the Block will be on our National Day of Service, Sept. 11, 2009, where we will organize Green the Block service events around the country in coordination with the President’s initiative, United We Serve.”

No. Wrong. Entirely wrong.

9/11 is not about green jobs or health care or bank bailouts or about the ideologies and egos of celebrities who are planning concerts and other performances this year. To them, hands off.

And “remembrance” must not, must never, be forgotten.

It would be sacrilege to smother 3,000 murders under gauzy and fleeting good feelings.

It would be a gross betrayal to gloss the evil that targeted – and still targets – America.

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