Honoring Victims of 9/11 the Right Way

In conjunction with the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Slate has just released a comic book based on the 9/11 Commission report. The book is featured on a free chapter-a-day basis on The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Col??³n, caught the attention of Wonkette, the gossipy guilty pleasure for those inside the beltway. Wonkette, which routinely makes jabs at the Bush Administration, correctly labels Slate’s effort "the absolute stupidest thing we’ve ever seen."

In just a few short days the comic book shot up to No. 11 on and to No. 1 on my own personal list of creepiest ways to remember 9/11. At the beginning of the first chapter, the 19 Muslim terrorists aboard the four planes are drawn to mimic the newspaper front pages that showed all the terrorists. Judging by Slate’s rendition, the 19 terrorists look like a bunch of caucasian skateboarders (no offense meant toward America-loving skateboarders). I couldn’t bring myself to flip through all the pages, but there were a couple stand-outs that range from absurd to creepy to disgusting.

The writer and artist use the comic book format to portray the Vice President showing virtually no emotion as he casually points to a television showing a second plane hitting the World Trade Center. In another frame, a pear-shaped and messy Karl Rove tells a robotic President Bush that "A twin-engine plane has crashed into the World Trade Center, Mr. President." President Bush replies, "Oh no! Must have been pilot error!"

The crass images that really got to me were the Batman-like KAPOW! that was drawn over a fiery Pentagon (BLAMM!) and Twin Towers (R-RRUMBLE… and WHOOOM!). Onomatopoeia never seemed so sinister.

According to the book description, "Here is stunning evidence that Sid Jacobson and Ernie Col??³n, with more than sixty years of experience in the comic-book industry between them, were right: far, far too few Americans have read, grasped, and demanded action on the Commission’s investigation into the events of that tragic day and the lessons America must learn."

The "lesson America must learn" (and most have) is that honoring the victims of 9/11 and stopping future terrorist attacks is not done by cheapening that day with caricatures and sound effects. In fact, on more than a hundred campuses across the nation, high school and college students will be honoring those who died on 9/11 in a more mature way.

The Young America’s Foundation’s 9/11: Never Forget Project, now in its third year, assists students with planning memorials, lectures and other activities to remember the anniversary of 9/11. The Foundation distributes free-of-charge thousand of buttons, posters, stickers and other materials so students can give them out to their fellow classmates. Patrick Coyle, director of campus programs, said, "Our 9/11: Never Forget Project has become the activity for conservative students to organize on their campuses since most schools ignore the day completely or set up a politically-correct alternative."

In addition to planning flag memorials, blanketing a common area with an American flag for each of the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11, the Foundation sponsors lectures from prominent speakers like former Attorney General John Ashcroft; Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About America; Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, who led his battalion in capturing the Baghdad International Airport during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Major John Krenson, who served as liaison between the US and NATO during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; and Deena Burnett, mother of three and wife of Tom Burnett, who organized a revolt against the hijackers on United flight 93 after Deena alerted him to the other attacks, causing the plane to go down in a Pennsylvania field rather than hitting its original target, the White House.

It’s not surprising that the conservative students involved with the 9/11: Never Forget Project have faced opposition from leftist administrators. Two girls at Walt Whitman High School in New York were told by their principal that the Never Forget buttons couldn’t be distributed because their "pins could be used as weapons." The principal also objected to the flag memorial because "the American flags could poke tiny holes in the sports field." How about taking a poll among those who use the field on whether they mind honoring the victims of 9/11 for a few days? Some other excuses used by various administrators from others schools include calling the flags a fire hazard (only the left could come up with this one) and insisting that the campus conservatives must camp outside so the flags could be watched 24 hours-a-day.

Given the dedication of conservative activists and their worthy cause, the positive responses to their memorials and other activities overshadow the handful of bureaucratic administrators who object the memorials. The number of schools participating in the Never Forget Project has tripled from 55 to 150 high schools and colleges across the country.

Kara Luzik of Halifax High School in Pennsylvania organized a flag memorial last year and this year will be organizing it again, as well as bringing in Lt. Col. Scott Rutter to speak at her school. Miss Luzik said, "When I decided to bring Young America’s Foundation’s 9-11 Never Forget Project to my high school I had no idea how much of a positive impact it would have on my community. Our memorial was constructed beside a main highway, as cars drove past they would honk their horns in support of the project. The project united our student body because, regardless of everyone’s differences, we all realized that we shared one common experience: September 11th, 2001."

High school and college students get it. Why doesn’t and their cohorts on the left?