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Patriot Day

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007 12:55 AM

This isn't about the memory of the 3,027 men and women who were killed in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Or necessarily about the 27,000+ wounded and 3,700+ casualties of our action in Iraq.

It's about patriotism.

We hear a lot about it, particularly as we come to the sixth anniversary of a grim date in our country's history. We hear from some that patriotism is marching in ideological lockstep with our leaders, and that to voice doubt is to aid the enemy.

What really aids the enemy is fear. The fear that has us jumping at 'a new video of Osama bin Laden.' The fear that makes civic authorities panic when someone's running club draws chalk arrows in a parking lot, or puts up black boxes featuring a cartoon character.

For whatever reasons, our leaders have seen fit to alternately decry and dismiss Osama bin Laden as a threat. But what he is, is closure. Whether to trial or by execution, bringing bin Laden to justice is a necessary stamp to close out the account of 9/11.

Under no circumstances should the late Saddam Hussein and his phantom WMDs become a greater symbol than the man who is the preeminent face of Wahabist ideology.

But back to patriotism. It is more than servile obedience to a king, as our founding fathers amply demonstrated. And it must be more than hurling epithets back and forth � defeatist liberal, traitor, neocon, warmonger. (Yes, I'm calling a spade on both sides. We're all guilty, folks.)

Our words - pro and con, for or against - must do honor to the freedoms and concepts upon which this country was founded.

Our words are as feared by the enemy as our weapons and our military might. Not only when they specifically address those events which rise around us and which will be shaped by our choices and actions, but when we:

� talk about last night's baseball game
- diss Britney Spears for her new disco zombie act
- eat at our favorite restaurant
- express our sexuality at any level
- go shopping
- write a blog
- refuse to be terrorized
- worship as we choose
- create or listen to music

(Feel free to add to the list via comments.)

Our patriotism is about who and what we are. I can think of no better way to spend this day (or any day, for that matter) than to be free.

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