“Never forget” What?

September 11th, 2014, 7pm

It’s not even a complete sentence, “Never forget.” There’s no subject. It’s vague enough to be meaningless.

Never forget the people who died. Never forget the towers1 existed. Never forget the attack. Never forget they hate us.

…and our freedom?

Is that closer to the mark? The dichotomy, you’re either with us or against us? That we’re the good guys.

That seems closer to the mark.

Perhaps, we should be remembering more complicated things. Like the consequences of meddling in a region half a world away for decades. Supporting people, training them, helping them and their cause, then abandoning them. Choosing new people, perhaps their enemies, doing the same. This isn’t an attack, but a pattern over time with similar results. Dead civilians, damaged economies, people who won’t forget.

Or maybe we’re remembering that we are strong. We came together as a nation to grieve, and mourn, and with hope, to take action.

But then we must also remember how that hope and pride became hubris in the hands of our leaders. How they saddled us with a hopeless task, in a quagmire perpetually creating more people who will not forget us.

What’s more, who is doing the remembering, us? Never is a long time, how long until we are no longer us? There will come a day, when despite remembering whatever it is, that it will cease to have lost all meaning and relevance.

Modern Tunisians don’t seem bothered by Italy, despite the Carthaginian wars, though they must remember. They are no longer the same people.

On a shorter timeline, Japan and the United States get along fine despite World War II. There are still people alive in both countries who fought in that war, yet there are no “Never forget” headlines on December 7, or August 6.

There’s a lot to remember, but maybe we should start by remembering we aren’t the center of the world; it’s more complicated out there than we imagine. But it’s hard to put that on a t-shirt.

  1. And the Pentagon, though that’s been repaired. 

Vosco, Adrian and David Wade said thanks.

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Matt Slack

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