Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Freedom Tower - What Makes A Hero

Against my better judgement, I'm reading the news today. I don't watch the news because I don't believe it's necessary for anyone to explain to me what it means and, frankly, I find it really annoying when they attempt to do so. However, there was an AOL front page blurb about a woman who might possibly 130 years old so I clicked on that and found myself reading through today's posted news.

I came across an article about the Freedom Tower, or at least the architecture that was supposed to carry that name. Apparently, some guy wants to change the name back to One World Trade Center. People are pretty pissed off about that hence the need for an article.

I agree with the being pissed off. I think the proposed name reflects the horrific nature of an unthinkable, unprovoked, reprehensible attack within our borders and I think to build a structure on that infamous site without giving voice to the events that made construction necessary is yet one more way to lessen the public's outrage at the events that occurred. I believe a commemoration of some type is needed. I think people need to have a physical reminder that we can be attacked, that we can't continue to be complacent in a dangerous world, and that the attacks of September 11th profoundly changed the way we, as Americans, live and think about ourselves. I think it's important.

What I don't agree with is one phrase in this article and that is: "Where One and Two World Trade Center once stood, there will be a memorial with two voids to honor the heroes we lost." I'm sure this won't make me popular but the unfortunate people who died when the planes crashed into the towers weren't heroes. They were regular folks going about their regular business. They were chatting it up around water coolers. They were on the phone or in meetings conducting the day's business. They were running errands, delivering packages, surreptitiously playing solitaire or reading the online news, checking email or posting the occasional tweet on a newborn Twitter. They were going about their day. How does that make them heroes? If someone is run over by a bus driven by some crazed, terrorist lunatic does that person then gain hero status? For merely crossing the street to get the mail?

A plane crashed into a hotel in Indianapolis while I lived there. No, it wasn't flown by terrorists but it still killed people and that hotel just happened to be across the interstate from where I worked. Those people weren't touted as heroes. They were victims and they were mourned. That event wasn't as spectacular as Sept 11th, and justifiably not, but perhaps you can see a parallel, albeit fuzzy.

Do you know who the real heroes are? The fireman, police and civilians who risked their lives to get people out and to clean up afterward. The people who selflessly saw the mayhem, and without regard for personal safety, or expecting a government payout, walked into the dark clouds of life threatening dust and the treacherous debris and did what they could to help. Those are heroes. The people on Flight 93 who tried to take control back from terrorists - those people are truly heroes.

The soldiers who followed orders and went into unknown lands in an attempt to flush out the crazy people who attacked us are heroes....and they're still there. They are trying to bring stability to places worse the the deadliest slums to be found in this country. They make nothing for pay, leave their families for months or years at a time, exist in poor conditions under constant threat of death. Their families do not get millions of dollars when one of their loved ones dies. Agree with the policies or not, those men and women are heroes.

One of many dictionaries defines a hero as "A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life". I believe those I've named above earned that title.

I'm not minimizing the loss of those who were in the towers. I'm not spitting on their suffering or that of their families. I would never do so. What I am saying is, in our attempt to find closure, let's acknowledge the loss of the people in the towers that day. Let's acknowledge the loss of our sense of safety within our borders, but let's remember what a hero really is and not toss that term around loosely lest it lose all meaning and become yet another catch-phrase that used to mean something remarkable. That's all I'm saying.


Marty said...

I nearly didn't read this because I avoid anything Sept. 11, 2001 related - I just overloaded on the subject several years ago and turned it off as you have done with the news. But, I did read this and agree with you. The name 'Freedom Tower' had been getting on my nerves as much as 'Freedom Fries' once did. Maybe they should call it World Trade Center Redux, something else besides Freedom Tower, which to me carries the lingering stink of the Bush administration.

Conservative Cleveland Catholic Mom said...

Amen~ well said.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on the news too. IMO they want to sugarcoat this because the commercial real estate market in New York City has tanked and they probably can't fill the space. (Think Wall St.)

Who in the heck would go to work in an unmoving target like this building would be? 9-11 was the second terrorist attack on the WTC.

I heard a lot of people talking about building back taller etc., etc. Real easy to say if you live in Texas, for instance.

I was one for the area being turned into a park.


Sherry W said...

Kudos. Very well said. A hero isn't hit by the bus. He's the guy braving the elements to pull the victim out from under the bus. I'm with you all the way on this one.

Anonymous said...

I think it should've been a park, for people to reflect, be joyful in life, be thankful for living here. People all over the world have dealt with terrorism, or whatever Obama is calling it these days, and I don't think they erect huge structures every time there is a tragic attack.
People may not have agreed with Bush on some, if not most of his choices, but he was put in a terrible position and did the best he could. Obama is waving the "happy" flag at everyone who wants to blow us up, we'll see how that goes.