Friday, September 10, 2010

Any Other Day

We don’t call it Trade Center Day. Or the Twin Tower Attack. Or the al-Qaeda Massacre. (Probably not that one because we wouldn’t know which massacre.) We obliquely refer to it as "The Events of September 11."

It isn’t even “events” unless you count each plane separately.

"Event?” A half-price sale is an event. A family reunion is an event. Intentionally crashing four passenger airliners on a sunny autumn morning—killing 3000 people—deserves a bigger word than "event."

Like Memorial Day and D-Day and Independence Day, The Events of September 11 saw heroes who leapt into action. There were also people who froze in confusion and fear, and others who went about their business, telling themselves, “If I act like nothing is happening, then everything will be fine.”

I’ve always thought of New York City as being a fount of creativity. Certainly it is a city of writers—nearly every major publishing and advertising house is there. So this non-naming of the attack to its heart, and the unfortunate moniker of Ground Zero as the location—after all this time, isn’t it okay to think about naming it?

Fourth of July is kind of like that, but at least it has a real name: Independence Day. I presume we don’t call it Independence Day because 4th is easier to spell.

Nobody refers to D-Day as The Events of June 6. Indeed, that memorable day is also called Operation Overlord and Operation Neptune, swell names befitting the courage of those involved. If June 6 deserves three names, September 11 certainly deserves one.

Can you imagine buying presents to celebrate The Events of December 25? Not to compare myself to the baby Jesus, but I was The Event of March 1.

What if something else happens on September 11? Are we going to call it "One of The Events?" We honor Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Jr. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the death of Jesus on Good Friday, even though I don't see what was so good about it. We celebrate the death of good taste on St. Patrick’s Day, and on Memorial Day we celebrate the death of just about everyone else. But we don’t celebrate the death of American legends John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt or James Monroe, because they all died on July 4th. “Sorry,” the Calendar Czar told them, “you can’t have a holiday. It’s already the 4th of July.”

How about the guy who presents an engagement ring to his girlfriend on her birthday or on Christmas? It’s a classic male maneuver to duck out of shopping. A two-for-one. He considers himself a proper present, one she’s been asking for. But sir, you are doomed to forget your anniversary, and cursed to endure the icy “How-could-you” scowl of your wife and dampen her birthday every year for the rest of your marriage. Just ask anyone whose birthday is on New Year’s Eve.

The date has no connection to the tragedy except that the towers were shaped like a 11. New Yorkers: you love to tell us where you were when it happened, especially those of you who were there when it happened. Could you put a proper name on that terrifying, disorienting, surreal attack, so it isn't named like any other day?