Anniversary of attacks time for somber reflection, not themed parties
On campus yesterday, I saw girls walking around in American flag cutoffs, cowboy boots and bandannas. It was not the Fourth of July. It was Sept. 11.
Since I’ve been at USC, I’ve seen this each year. I’ve seen tacky “patriotic” outfits. I’ve seen people use this occasion — the anniversary of the worst domestic terrorist attack in this country’s history — as an excuse for an “America-themed” party.
This sickens me deep in my stomach. It makes my hands shake with anger.
I am from New York. My home is about 60 miles from New York City. My father worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sept. 2001, blocks from the World Trade Center. He heard the planes fly over his office that morning. For five days after the attacks, he had to stand outside the hospital, telling distraught and desperate mothers, fathers, wives and husbands that, no, sorry, your loved one is not in our hospital.
Two people from my very small town died on Sept. 11, 2001. One was a firefighter and a good friend’s father. He died trying to rescue people from the crumbling towers. The other was a woman on United Airlines Flight 93. She was one of the heroic passengers who fought the terrorist hijackers away from the controls of a plane that eventually crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
I cannot look at pictures of the twin towers, standing or crumbling, or even ground zero, without feeling anxious to the point of nausea. This is the same for many of my family and childhood friends. You simply cannot understand the devastation Sept. 11 wrought upon New York or the areas of the other attacks unless you’ve lived it.
Trivializing our greatest contemporary national tragedy with costumes and parties is the most vile and disgusting thing I can imagine. Those who do so should be deeply ashamed. This “patriotism” is anything but.