A year ago, most Americans couldn’t tell you where Afghanistan was.

A year ago, most of us felt pretty secure.

Since a year ago, things have happened that we’d like to forget, but we haven’t been given a minute to… as if we could.

We’ll be commemorating that terrible event of one year ago tomorrow. There will be quiet memorials, large gatherings with music and prayers, and an all-out assault by the media on television… it’s this media assault that I’m bothered by. Surprise.

I’ve already made the decision that I’m not going to watch any tributes tomorrow evening. I doubt that I’ll be attending any either. I don’t want to find myself getting angry at how a tribute is done, rather than focusing on what it’s actually about. I won’t deny that televised tributes have their place, clearly there will be millions watching. And local gatherings will be absolutely essential to those that feel as alone this September 11th as they did last September 11th. But a commemoration of this magnitude so soon after the event is easy to do the wrong way and nearly impossible to do the right way. Especially on television.

What I Don’t Want in a September 11th Commemoration

  • A “Rah-rah America!” tone. I’m not exactly feeling patriotic these days thanks to the Republibush form of government. And, please, spare me the “be thankful for what you have!” speech. I am. Very. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be angered and upset at the way our country handles itself in foreign affairs. Blinding chanting “Go America!” without realizing that our country’s policies encourage disdain of our country’s ideals is bordering on jingoism. And don’t get me started on the limiting of our liberties… folks, security and personal freedoms are not mutually exclusive. I don’t want to be reminded of how angry and cynical I’ve gotten about world affairs in the last year, and I’m afraid lots of flag waving and “God Bless America” will do just that.
  • A focus on the Taliban, the terrorists, or anything else that makes Islam look like some inherently “evil” religion.
  • Endless footage of the attacks. We had enough a year ago. Are the images of suffering what we need to commemorate?
  • Famous people talking about the attacks. Or politicians talking about the attacks. Or newscasters talking about the attacks.
  • Musical tributes.

What I Do Want in a September 11th Commemoration, If I Were to Watch

  • A commemoration that doesn’t dwell on the attack or any of the politics surrounding it: just a focus on the victims, allowing family and friends to openly share memories of people they lost. NPR’s Sonic Memorial does this extremely well.
  • An advertisement-free zone. From what I’ve heard, this is going to happen in a lot of cases.
  • A quiet, reflective—but not overdramatic—tone.
  • A single well-sung, heartfelt version of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Apparently Kelly Clarkson will be taking care of this. Good for her.

Tomorrow night, I’m not going to be in front of the TV with the rest of the country. But mind you, it’s not an act of defiance. Instead, I’ll be outside, eating dinner on the porch and going for a walk with my wife. I’ll be enjoying the final days of summer and being mindful of the lives that were lost and the lives that were changed. I’ll be giving thanks, saying silent prayers, and looking more deeply at my surroundings and the people near me. I don’t want to be riled up, I don’t want to be angry, and I don’t want to be told how to remember what happened. I have my own way, and I’m quite happy doing it that way.

Peace.

“But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conductive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.” -the Buddha