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Still Clinging...

There's an old saw that the human body replaces every cell over a seven-year period. According to this apocryphal bit of wisdom, over that time each single cell in the human body will spawn its heir, then die off at some moment over that span of time. In essence, while we feel like the same person, there is not a single trace of the individual we were seven years ago.

There is a similar theme in American politics. Thanks to the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, no president can serve more than two four-year terms (apart from some very bizarre and highly improbable circumstances). So, on a national level, we are guaranteed (for good or ill) a whole new government every eight years. It's part of what makes the description of the American political system as "institutionalized revolution" so true.

Eight years ago, our current president was a largely unremarkable State Senator, largely unknown outside of Illinois.

Eight years ago, our current vice-president was a long-serving United States senator, best known for a failed presidential bid back in 1988.

In Congress, the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House from that day have both left office. And the man who was Chief Justice has passed on.

We have had a complete turnover at the top of our government, with not only the people changing, but the reins of power passing to the hands of the opposition party, since that beautiful, terrible morning eight years ago today. And it all occurred peacefully, without a shot, without a single drop of blood spilled.

We have renewed ourselves over eight years. We have remade ourselves as a government.

Not because of that beautiful, terrible day. Not in spite of that terrible, beautiful day. But in complete and utter disregard of that beautiful, terrible day.

We were shaken to our very core on that beautiful, terrible day. We were all filled with fury and terror and dread and righteous rage and shock and a host of other emotions.

But we quickly adapted. We acclimated to the new world, and we resumed our lives. The "institutionalized revolution" spirit of our governance ensured that we'd be rattled for a bit, but we'd find our new balance.

This year, our president -- that former state legislator -- has suggested -- gently -- that it might be time to start moving away from clinging to the past. While we should never forget that beautiful, terrible day, and the thousands who were murdered on that day, perhaps it is time to shift the memorializing from the actual date of the event to a convenient weekend, like so many of our other holidays. Instead, this date should be used as a day of service -- when we should focus on doing good, productive, charitable deeds in the memory of those who died.

It might indeed be time for that. It might be good for us to do that.

But I'm not ready.

I don't want to let go of that terrible, beautiful day. I am not ready to focus on the deaths of those thousands of innocents and choose to do good deeds in their honor. I am not ready to focus on that they died, and I still need to cling to why they died. I am not prepared to focus on the tragedy of their deaths, but the motives behind their murders.

To me, their deaths were not a tragedy. They were an atrocity. They did not lose their lives -- those lives were taken from them in a deliberate act of cruelty and hatred. And while those who killed them are dead, and so many of those who aided in that attack are also dead or imprisoned or on the run, there are still so many more who would do the same or more if they had the wherewithal -- and they are striving to achieve that wherewithal.

Eight years. There are young people who can look at the New York skyline and not see the negative space, the gaping hole in the sky where two towers once stood. Once again, the tallest building is the Empire State Building, and it almost blends into the background of other skycrapers, nowhere near as dominant as the World Trade Center towers were.

I'm not ready to let go of that terrible, beautiful day. And I don't know if I ever will.


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Comments (17)

Thank you, Jay Tea. Beautif... (Below threshold)
Laura:

Thank you, Jay Tea. Beautifully written, as always. Glad you're back.

Nicely done Jay Tea.<... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

Nicely done Jay Tea.

Today will always be a National Day of Rage to never forget.

THANK YOU!... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

THANK YOU!

Two Thumbs Up.... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

Two Thumbs Up.

So our Muslim president wan... (Below threshold)
John S:

So our Muslim president wants to deemphasize September 11 to a half-hour in TV on Labor Day weekend. Looks like the terrorists have won.

Your post is a great snapsh... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Your post is a great snapshop of where I am. Beautifully written and so glad your back.

I think it will be and should be some time before we let go of any rage from that horrible day no matter how politically expedient it may be for Obama. Those crazies are out there and we all learned, well most of us, that they are patient and cunning. They know our system as well or better then some americans. We should be forever vigilant. ww

Amen.... (Below threshold)
itismedavid:

Amen.

Of course Obama wants to "s... (Below threshold)
BluesHarper:

Of course Obama wants to "shift the memorializing from the actual date of the event to a convenient weekend". He wasn't born here on the mainland. I was born and raised here. I don't want to let go of those tragic events yet either. But I can see the disconnect Obama may have. Thousands of miles of disconnect. Oh, I'm sorry. It's just how I feel. No, I'm not a birther. Close though. I apologize if I'm rubbing any Hawaiians the wrong way.

I'm not ready either.... (Below threshold)
Carol:

I'm not ready either.

Glad you're back.

Comment #5: Barack Obama is... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Comment #5: Barack Obama is a Muslim.

+3 positive votes!USA! USA!

Links removed by blog author, who is readying Olaf's Hammer...

Hyper, again, allow citizen... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Hyper, again, allow citizens of this country remember the terror of that day. You go fix your healthcare system that is imploding. ww

Oh come ON, Jay Tea. It's a... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Oh come ON, Jay Tea. It's a perfectly valid way of caricaturizing "John S". And people who give someone like that positive votes deserve to be ridiculed and insulted too. It's not likely to change their minds, but they don't deserve to go through their entire day without knowing that at least one person thinks they're a disgrace to their species.

There's still a net positive of votes for the guy's comment six and a half hours after he posted it. Celebrate 9/11 by bathing in ignorance and hatred if you want, but that strikes me as something beneath a civilized society. Why not leave that kind of stupidity to the people who cheered when the planes struck the towers? Oh, right: because not all barbaric savages are Muslims, and some of them read English language blogs.

Carry on, geniuses.

(Good post, by the way, Jay.)

hyperbole, Some day... (Below threshold)

hyperbole,
Some day you may find out, harshly, the veneer
of civilization is very thin.

"Some day you may find out,... (Below threshold)
Still An Unrepentant Democrat:

"Some day you may find out, harshly, the veneer
of civilization is very thin."

Funny, how thick that veneer is depending on your political philosophy maggie.

Saud, It's not my p... (Below threshold)
Oh, and one more.<a ... (Below threshold)
MaggieMy apology. ... (Below threshold)
Still An Unrepentant Democrat:

Maggie

My apology. I thought you were referring to something else altogether.




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