Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Loss of Eloquence

While chatting in IM yesterday, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 came up in conversation. Like most people have done since shortly after this incident, she referred to it simply as “9/11”.

Though I’m sure that most people don’t mean it this way, to reduce an incident of such gravity to merely a date is to subtly trivialize what happened. It also stigmatizes the ordinary day of September 11th itself, a day which many people were born, were married, gave birth, and so on.

What happened on that day needs to be referred to more respectfully and not reduced to a convenient sound bite. After all, we don’t refer to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as “12/7”!

It was a “date that will live in infamy”. The eloquence of Franklin Roosevelt’s words still give me shivers when I hear a recording of his speech, and I wasn’t even born when it happened.

Likewise, sixty five years removed from the events, I feel the courage and determination of the British people to fight Hitler whenever I read Churchill’s words: “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God's good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.”

And though I was a child when these words were first spoken, I still get a chill when I hear a recording of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

I realized that I’ve digressed from the focus of the first few paragraphs, but my main point is that some events in history are important enough to be given their full measure and not be reduced to superficial buzz words.


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