(N.B. I don’t mean, in this post, to denigrate the immense wounds of people who lost love ones on September 11, 2001, or the immense ferocity of the event perpetrated on them.)
On Sept. 11, 2001, at least 2,985 people were killed in hijacking events ending in a crash into the Pentagon, a crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the crashing of two planes into the two buildings of the World Trade Center. That is what happened.
In the rescue efforts surrounding the U.S. World Trade Center attacks, many rescue workers were killed as well, (as stated on Wikipedia,) including:
323 N.Y. City Firefighters
23 N.Y. City Police officers
37 Port Authority Police members
15 Emergency Medical Technicians
3 Court Workers
I noticed from that day forward, members of American media and society alike call the victims of the World Trade Center, and the other crashes, heroes. I believe that the people noted in the list above were heroes — they willingly plunged into that hellish day with all their hearts and spirits, to assist people they most probably did not know. So many gave their lives in this unselfish effort, not only in New York but at all the crash sites that day; I absolutely believe that these people are heroes. We are removing some of the enormous credit due them, when we call everyone killed that day a hero.
But these others were victims of the events of September 11, 2001. That is the thing — these middle-Eastern terrorists crashed their planes into buildings holding thousands of innocent men, women, and children, or straight into the ground. Their deaths are tragic, the victimization of these civilians is grievous, and hundreds, if not thousands, of noble acts took place among those victims. But to be killed in a conflict, in which they have no part, makes these people victims. They are no more heroes than the sports figures and actors our kids look up to. They deserve our deep sympathy and respect; heir families should be able to call on America and its citizens for comfort, economic aid, protection, and counseling and mental health care.
I remember a time, not long ago, when heroes were people who committed many extraordinary acts of courage in the defense of innocent others. By blurring that line, we’ve done two things — we’ve made the actual heroes seem less heroic, and the victims less of what they were, average people who went to work, or to the bank; children in daycare, but all blameless, and in no way deserving of their hostile, ugly deaths.
I don’t need another hero. I need to remember that the planes crashed into, and carried, ordinary American people, who did not sign up to put their lives on the line that day. They could have been you and me. But the terrorists deliberately killed almost 3,000 ordinary American people, and that is what pisses me off.