Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Commemorating Defeat
Daniel Schorr had an interesting essay on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday this week. He reviewed the discussions over whether 9/11 should be made into a national holiday. His conclusion: no. As far as he knew, there are no cultures or peoples who have created a holiday specifically to commemorate a defeat. Imagine such a day years later degenerating into picnics and frisbee tournaments.

As a publicly acknowledged Jewish newsman (he specifically pointed out during a different broadcast that his usual Saturday morning commentary spot was being recorded on Friday due to Rosh Hashana), Dan seems to have missed his own people. We have a real knack for creating days to commemorate defeat. Starting with Tisha B'Av which remembers the destruction of both the first and second temples as well as various other calamities. Nope, no victory there. And what about Holocaust Memorial Day - while ultimately the Jewish people were not defeated, the Holocaust certainly defeated 6 million precious individuals among us. And, in keeping with the current "holiday" season, let's not forget the just passed Fast of Gedaliah which commemorates the killing of a Jewish governor in ancient Judea.

To our credit, no one picnics on Tzom Gedaliah or Tisha B'Av (kind of hard when you're not allowed to eat!). Perhaps 9/11 should similarly be remembered with sack cloth and ashes. Or is that just too ironically morbid?

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