After a summer full of debt ceiling haggling, Republican cave-ins, pre-election season debates, presidential vacations, presidential golf games, East coast earthquakes and a hurricane (in the same week!)…the media will give Summer 2011 a big finale with their coverage of the Tenth Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Beginning this weekend and continuing through September, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any major network or cable channel that will not have some sort of special to air or live coverage the day of the anniversary. The Weather Channel may be the only one, and I’m not sure they aren’t planning to cover it in some way.
Perhaps the most outrageous special that I’ve seen advertised will be on the Biography Channel, where you’d expect things to have a little more substance. However, “When Pop Culture Saved America: The 9-11 Story” sounds like it will be more fluff from a bunch of mostly B-list celebrities telling us how they felt it was their duty to get the country laughing again. Gee, I don’t know what I would have done in the days following 9-11 without the comedic genius of Gilbert Gottfried. You’ve got to be kidding me! Come on, Biography Channel, you can do better than that.
Pop culture most definitely did NOT save America after 9-11-01. Americans saved America by putting aside our differences to pray for the victims and their families…by volunteering in our communities…by donating blood to the point where blood drives were turning people away…and by attending church in record numbers. Americans looked to each other, and to God- not Hollywood- for comfort. It’s a foolish individual indeed, who turns to Hollywood and, I might add, Washington, in times of trial and tragedy. This is just another way to turn a world event into another “look at me” moment for people constantly needing to make the story about themselves.
The specials that I’m planning to watch are going to focus on what happened and to whom. I don’t care about commentary from Dan Rather or Gilbert Gottfried. I want to know how the survivors who escaped from the buildings are doing now. I want to hear from the wives of the firefighters who left home that morning and never returned. What about a special on the stories of New York City 9-1-1 operators who took some of those calls from people trapped in the World Trade Center? How is Lisa Beamer and her family been doing in the ten years since losing their husband and father (Todd Beamer, United 93)? Who could tire of the accounts of the heroes who rushed in to save people, and everyday office workers who became heroes when they led their colleagues through smoke and fire to get to safety, just in the nick of time?
There are millions of stories like these that can and should be told every year on the anniversary. We shouldn’t rest until every story is told. Only in remembering what we lost that day can we stay vigilant, so that it never happens again.