September 11th has become an interesting day in our country.
It's not a holiday - while there are remembrances and ceremonies (much as Memorial Day has), there are no celebrations. No cookouts and picnics and fireworks.
And yet it's not a regular day, either. For my family, it usually coincides with the beginning of school, and all the resultant chaos that entails. It usually seems that I spend the day alternating between thinking about the history of the day, and just doing the normal stuff. And yet, when I do stop and think, it feels a little strange just being normal on this day.
I want to respect the memories of those who died. Living so near to New York City, many of those people were my neighbors - I am lucky and perhaps unusual here that I didn't personally know anyone who was killed, but I have friends who lost loved ones. Our small downtown has a memorial, and I know some of those names etched there.
I don't think I want September 11th to be a day off, a day of only remembrance. We run the risk then of it gradually morphing into a holiday, and forgetting, as with Memorial Day, just why we have the day off and the mall is having a sale. While I suppose that would mean that the terrorists haven't won (what could be more American than shopping?), it feels disrespectful. People died that day, people who were innocent victims, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and also people who knowingly ran into the burning building, or stormed the cockpit to crash the plane. Is there any difference between them and the soldier that runs out into the line of fire to pull his buddy back? They were all faiths and many nationalities, rich and poor, men and women.
As a nation, we owe them a day not like any other day. Their tragedy should remind us of what the United States is really about. We may not agree with all the different ways people remember this day, but they died because we have the freedom to choose those different ways.
And however you may choose to go about your business today, take a moment and remember that it is not just a regular day. September 11th will never again be like any other day.