The human brain has an uncanny capacity for connecting ideas and thoughts by merging memories and experiences to help us make sense of the world. When we search for a relationship between the words December and presents, most of us think about Christmas. In fact, just about every holiday can be associated in a similar manner. But there is one exception. What comes to mind when you think about September and New York? There are two possible answers, one antiquated and outdated. The other, a day that changed the trajectory of America, her people, and her future forever.
Labor Day Facts:
1882 marks the first official Labor Day where thousands of people participated in a New York City parade to show support for public labor unions who at the time were widely accepted as the working man’s shield of equality. Revelers drank beer, took a day off work, and marked the end of the summer season through the lens of a congressionally approved federal holiday. In 2017 a little over ten percent of workers remained active union members, equating to a decline in participation since the 1950’s.
If you ask the average American why we celebrate Labor Day you may get answers like: school is starting, it’s the last weekend to enjoy the outdoor pool or it’s time to put away my white shoes until next year. Labor Day is simply a noncontroversial, nonreligious day off. We pause to reflect and remember very little; if anything at all.
September 11th Facts:
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, four passenger-filled airliners were hijacked by extreme Islamic terrorists on a suicide mission of mass destruction. On that day and over time, thousands died In New York, Washington D.C and in a quiet field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Thousands of first responders continue to pay the ultimate price as a result of their heroics. Experts are now predicting the number of deaths from exposure to toxic fumes at ground zero, are exploding at such a furious rate that they will soon overtake the number who died on the day of the tragedy itself.
On the annual anniversary of 9/11, there is no reveling, beer drinking, BBQs, or time off work. Instead of marking the end of the summer season, we mark the unimaginable beginnings of the domestic terrorist season. Schools are open, federal buildings are fully functional and the government hums along as if it were just another ordinary day. Those of us who were there know differently. We promised we would never forget, is it possible that without federal distinction, Patriot Day will become a day where we just don’t quite remember anymore?
The facts speak for themselves. On the one hand, we have an antiquated holiday that lacks relevance and has become a reason to fire up the grill and shop back to school sales. On the other, we have one of the most significant days in modern history. When we fail to take the necessary action to formally declare September 11th a federal holiday, we risk the injustice of the horrific loss of life being forgotten as time moves forward.
There are two days that come to mind when we think about New York and September. Labor Day, a federal holiday representing a day off with a shocking lack of conviction for anything meaningful and 9/11, one of the most compelling and influential days in our nation’s history. With 2996 of our citizens killed and over 6000 injured, we seem to linger in a state of vulnerability. Without question, September 11th deserves the formal recognition and distinction of being named a federal holiday. In just a few short weeks we mark the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11, one can only wonder how much longer our nation will have to wait for this day to receive the designation it deserves.