Not long ago, Governor Kulongoski ordered American flags on state property to half mast in honor of the late Senator Kennedy. OK. Prominent politician dies, offer up a gesture of honor at his passing. No big deal. Here is what the Governor had to say:
“Senator Ted Kennedy was one of our nation’s greatest and most honorable leaders, paving the way for equal rights, access to health care and bringing more opportunity to Americans of all walks of life,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “His passionate commitment to creating a safer and more just nation and world for all of us today and into the future will be missed but never forgotten. Senator Kennedy’s legacy will live on for generations and serves as a model for all of us in public and private service to emulate. In his own words ‘the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.’”
Sounds nice enough. You can think what you want about Ted's life and legacy - not the issue here today. But as tributes to passing Senators go, this is par for the course - especially that "never forgotten" business.
Never forgotten. Never forget. Now... where have I heard that before?
Oh yeah, that is most commonly used expression for this date in history, September 11. Never forget. I never will. Did Ted? Let's see what Ted has to say, today:
“It’s important to pause and reflect on the events that touched us all so deeply eight years ago,” Governor Ted Kulongoski said. “While another year has passed, we will always remember our fellow Americans who lost their lives in the tragic events that took place on that day.”
Wow. Far fewer words than he had to say about Ted Kennedy. On a far more serious topic. When I read this, I was saddened by how far we've fallen in just eight years. Let's deconstruct this brief statement, shall we?
It is important
Important. Like the children. Like eating your vegetables. You know, important. Are there no stronger words?
Don't stop. Just pause. You know, a minute or so. It shouldn't take any more of your time.
Reflect? REFLECT? Reflection is what you do when you are thinking about YOURSELF. You see YOUR REFLECTION in the mirror. You don't REFLECT on something that happened to an entire nation.
on the events
Here is where the real problems begin. Events? EVENTS? Ted, my niece's dance recital was an "event." Why are you afraid to actually name the EVENT that took place on 9/11? It has a name. Do you know what to call it? You call it an UNPROVOKED TERRORIST ATTACK ON INNOCENT CIVILIANS, BY RADICAL ISLAMIC JIHADISTS, STARTING A NEW WAR AGAINST FREEDOM. Events? Calling the attacks "events" is like calling the Civil War a "prolonged disagreement." It's like calling the Black Death "cold and flu season." Why do some people find it so hard to say what actually happened? Why is it so hard for some to recognize and articulate what the "events" were?
that touched us all so deeply
Ted, do you write bodice-ripper romance novels under a pen name? TOUCHED US ALL SO DEEPLY? Teenagers in love share touching moments. Deep ones. I think I saw a special about this on Hallmark TV. However, what happened on 9/11 was no touching moment. It was GUT WRENCHING, SOUL SUCKING PAIN. IT WAS STABBING AMERICA IN THE EYE. "Touched," my ass.
we will always remember
OK, to be fair, not too bad here. But "we will never forget" has a ring to it that no other expression, no matter how similar in connotation, can denote.
our fellow Americans
Not to be too nit picky, but 329 non-Americans were murdered, too.
who lost their lives
This makes me wretch. It makes it sound like the victims were responsible, like they lost their car keys. I know that normally writers should avoid using passive voice, but this is one time where it works better: try writing WHO WERE MURDERED BY THE TERRORIST BASTARDS. Or, WHO WERE BURNED TO DEATH WHEN THE TERRORIST BASTARDS CRASHED PLANES INTO THEM. Or, WHO WERE KILLED RUNNING INTO BURNING BUILDINGS TRYING TO SAVE VICTIMS OF THE TERRORIST ATTACK. Tell your high school grammar teacher: not all passive voice should be avoided.
I already talked about "events." It still applies here. So... "tragic"? Ted, the word has lost meaning from overuse. People use "tragic" to describe health care, bank failures, athletes dying young from steroid use, the cancellation of their favorite TV show, and Heath Ledger. All of these things have nothing whatsoever in common with 9/11. 9/11 wasn't simply "tragic." It was LIFE ALTERING AT THE FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL. Many Americans have no other moment in their life history to compare. Let's try to come up with something just a little less trite than merely "tragic."
that took place
Yeah. That's what the "tragic events" did. They "took place." I guess it is easier to type than THAT KILLED 2,996 PEOPLE AND FOREVER ALTERED OUR WAY OF LIFE. They "took place." Like what "took place" at Pearl Harbor, I guess.
on that day
OK, this is the part that really set me off. This is the part that, when I read it, had my blood boiling and inspired me to blog about it. THAT DAY. The words remind me of Bill Clinton, talking about sex with "that woman." More to the point, do you get pissed off when people refer to you as "that woman" or "that guy" when they know your name perfectly well? It's like saying "look missy" or "listen here mister." Well... THAT DAY is 9/11. DON'T YOU EVER, EVER CALL IT "THAT DAY." Just who the HELL do you think you are referring to 9/11 as "THAT DAY"? Calling 9/11 "that day" in your 9/11 MESSAGE is about as tasteless as it would have been to begin your tribute to Senator Kennedy with "that guy."
So now, Governor Kulongoski, here is an idea. Next year, which will be your last in office, try making a statement with pictures instead of words. Here are some you can use:
It took me just a few minutes with Google image search to find these. There are many, many more. A picture is worth 1,000 words. You used only 45. Just one of these pictures carries far more meaning than all of the 45 words you chose - poorly - to try to convey the meaning of 9/11. I will never forget. But you sure did.