December 21 and 9/11

The United States Post Office has commemorated everything from baseball to rock stars, from Faulkner to Disney. We do really well at honoring our heroes and often at overvaluing the trivial. But as a nation we aren’t very comfortable with commemorating or honoring our painful experiences. Our philatelic commemoration of the most painful American experience, the Civil War, has been spotty, more a selection of famous battles than addressing the causes of the war and how ending the evil of slavery was played out. The shameful end of Reconstruction has never made it to stamps nor has Jim Crow or lynching or the nearly century long attempt to continue de facto slavery. We are not very good as a society at facing what is painful without jingoistic posturing. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the two terrorist attacks on America that have occurred in the last twenty-five years have been ignored. On December 21, 1988 Pan Am 103 was blown up over Locherbie Scotland and on September 11, 2001 a variety of attacks on New York and Washington killed thousands. And yet even ten years after the last attack there has been no attempt to honor these victims of terrorism. Sure it would be painful, but our postal policy should not just be about  Homer Simpson, quilts and flowers.

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