Hallowed Ground?

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Usually I like to write on the brighter side of the topics I chose for my column.  And before I begin this one, I would like to emphasize that this is not an anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim or for that matter anti-any-religion rant.  It is just me simply sharing with you some heartfelt feelings and thoughts.  So up front I say this: just because we can do anything we want in America, doesn’t mean we should.

As the 9th anniversary of what surely was in my lifetime to date the worst day in America – the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the skies over Pennsylvania – I feel obligated to take pause.

One big, silent, empty pause.

The pause that can’t tell me why, or reconcile my feelings of dismay I felt on that day. Only a pause of remembrance, and a dim hope that it never happens again.

I can’t tell you where I was when Princess Di was killed, nor when it was announced that Michael Jackson had died, but I sure as heck can tell you where I was on that awful day in 2001 and the thought of it brings up some very sorrowful feelings even now.

Some people will tell you that time will heal anything. In this case, I disagree. As I move further along in my life, garnering the wisdom that comes with age, when I look back on the horror of that day, its effect is only emphasized.

I recognize it is easier to stick our collective heads in the sand, to wish 9/11 never happened, to hope it doesn’t happen again, and it makes me even more sad that so many people died on that day and we don’t even have the gall to call a spade a spade when it comes to whether or not a mosque should be built near the former site of what was once the center of the American dream incarnate, the World Trade Center.

Perhaps I have this feeling because I sense so much apathy in our country right now, and a lot of it is hidden behind the daily economic struggle we are all facing, or political correctness and permissive double-talk.  Not to be pessimistic, but I am not sure we could survive another 9/11, and I sure as heck don’t want our national security to become a succession of staggeringly horrific incidents that only serve to fortify our ambiguity when it comes to human tragedy, much less the very freedoms that this country represents. This apathy could be our greatest, fatal flaw.

I don’t know about you, but I wonder what happened to the feeling of nonpartisan “togetherness” and strength we shared in the months immediately following that most catastrophic mass murder of Americans?  On our own soil to boot!

(Suddenly as I write this, the Simon and Garfunkel lyrics “where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” have popped in to my head.)

I recently read an excellent commentary by Pulitzer-prize winning, Washington Post-syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on the subject, entitled “Sacrilege at Ground Zero” (Aug. 13, 2010) in which Mr. Krauthammer skillfully points out the obvious.  Allow me to reprint several paragraphs from his compelling argument as to whether building a mosque near Ground Zero should be allowed.  And with this, I complete my rant.

“A place is made sacred by a widespread belief that it was visited by the miraculous or the transcendent (Lourdes, the Temple Mount), by the presence there once of great nobility and sacrifice (Gettysburg), or by the blood of martyrs and the indescribable suffering of the innocent (Auschwitz).

When we speak of Ground Zero as hallowed ground, what we mean is that it belongs to those who suffered and died there — and that such ownership obliges us, the living, to preserve the dignity and memory of the place, never allowing it to be forgotten, trivialized or misappropriated.

That’s why Disney’s 1993 proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition that feared vulgarization of the Civil War (and that was wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.

And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place; it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.

Oh, and as a reminder, next week is National Patriotism Week.



On a lighter note: my new friend Bruno Serato of the White House of Anaheim is having a fundraiser in support of the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim and has invited me to join his group of friends and supporters who will be “celebrity” waiters/waitresses for his Catarina’s Club Gala (named after his Italian mother who taught him the gift of generosity and looking after each other).

Like many restaurateurs in these hard times, Bruno is struggling. But he refuses to give up his six-day-a-week preparation and delivery of pasta meals to the underprivileged kids who frequent the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim. Some days it is their only decent meal. If you haven’t seen all the national press he’s been getting lately you’ve probably been hiding under a rock!

Please join me for this very special evening in support of Bruno and his efforts next Friday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at The White House of Anaheim. The event will feature a champagne reception, with a five course dinner served at 8 p.m.  The cost is $150 per person and will be worth every penny!  RSVP now to 714-772-1381 and let them know you want to sit at Lynn Selich’s table!

Catarina’s Club is a charity affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Anaheim (a 501c3 charity IRS TAX ID 33-0356284). All proceeds are used to benefit the youth of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Anaheim.


Residing in Newport Beach, Lynn Selich is a weekly columnist and society editor for the Newport Beach Independent, and Associate Publisher of Newport Beach magazine.  She can be reached at [email protected].  Follow her on Facebook at Lynn Selich-Columnist or http://twitter.com/LynnSelich.



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