Saturday, September 11, 2010

TODAY IS 09/11/2010

There has never been a date that has meant so much to every one of us as September 11, 2001 but for obvious reasons (which I won't go into) in recent years it seemed as though public participation in commemorative events was floundering.

This year the controversy about the Ground Zero Mosque has rekindled the meaning of this date. It is still not clear how 09/11 will be observed in the future and at the present time it is neither a national holiday nor a day of mourning and rage. Schools and businesses are open and the commemoration is confined mostly to the families Predictably , for the time being, elected politicians make appearances at these ceremonies but if observance lags they will also drop out. 

When I ponder how we now celebrate the yearly anniversaries of September 11, 2010 I'm reminded of an expression I would occasionally hear from my own Jewish upbringing. Sometimes individual Jews who were not that observant themselves but who considered themselves experts of Jewish rituals would offer to define the level of observance for different Jewish holidays. Let me explain. While many Jews celebrate the well known Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Passover Yom Kippur) there are several other Jewish holidays that are only celebrated by the more religiously observant ones. For those who celebrate all the holidays the “Yontifs” are those in which you are not allowed to work, drive a car, use a telephone etc. Then there are other holidays, such as Hanukah & Purim in which you are permitted to drive, go to work etc. So the vernacular for some Jews, when speaking about Hanukah & Purim might be to say “it’s not a real yontif”. This is basically a down and dirty way of stating that although there are many holidays in which the observant Jew won't be at work and won't answer their telephone on these holidays they will be at work and will answer their telephones.

So the bottom line is that at this time 09/11 is just not a real Yontif, that is it's not an official holiday. That could also mean that we don't want to diminish its meaning by making it another national holiday because it could inevitably end up being another day off for from work and school like most of our national holidays.

Other than some participation in the official ceremonies I was not aware of any formal observance of 09/11 by the National Guard or the military. This year it fell on a Saturday but I’ve never closed my office on 09/11 and I have no plans to do so next year.

The reason I’m deploying to Iraq is both directly and indirectly because of 09/11. Our feelings about 09/11 were so strong that eighteen months after the event the majority of us supported the decision to invade Iraq. Now we’re all so tired of the war that we've basically chosen to simply not think about it. People have gotten so discouraged and bored with these wars that even the politicians have noticed. During the 2008 presidential race the public often seemed far more interested in local issues than the ongoing wars in the Middle East & Central Asia. In less than a decade, other that the more observant among us, the events of n09/11 along with the War in Iraq & the War in Afghanistan is so unpleasant that possibly the majority of Americans simply avoid even thinking about it.

Although it does indeed seem like people are avoiding dealing with the extreme unpleasantness of Iraq, Afghanistan and 09/11, I also know that if they are engaged appropriately they are not apathetic and they have intense passions . I suppose I've gotten to see the reactions of hundreds or perhaps even thousand of people (this includes countless patients) after they learned that I was deploying. A disproportionate number of the people I know personally tend to vote Democratic but I also know many who are quite conservative and I also have alot of patients who are in the military who clealry are more conservative.

Well I'm very happy to be able to say that there is essentially no difference in how either group responds when they hear that their friend, relative, neighbor, casual acquaintance or doctor is deploying to Iraq. After they get over their surprise it is clear that they all offer me the same interest and support and without a doubt they show the same love for their country. They start out surprised and confused as to how someone like me at my age could be going to Iraq but when they realize that this is to bring medical care to our soldiers they all get it because we are all American.


bailahora said...

Hey, everyone, I tried to post some farewell pictures of Martin from my computer but it wouldn't happen. Does anyone know how to do this?

-- Beatrice Lesser

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