Monday, September 12, 2011

The 911 Memorial Service

There was not one single speech of George.W.Bush that could outperform any of those made by President Obama, who is always articulate and natural, until yesterday, when the September 11th memorial service took place.

George.W.Bush read out a letter written by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 to a mother who lost five sons during the Civil War. (Damn, I always thought the mother who lost three sons in Saving Private Ryan had experienced the worst possible pain). Although there were references to God in the letter, it was not religious in nature. The focus of the content was about consoling the poor mother. It was inspirational and in a sense, moving.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

In contrast, Obama made a poor choice of just blatantly reading out a section from the bible. He said,

Psalm 46 begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.”

It seems inappropriate to have a Christian scripture quoted in a national ceremony. The victims of the attack 10 years ago, and the families and friends of the victims, are not all Christians. They come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths. If not all religions can be accommodated in the ceremony, none should be included at all. And I bet a large number of the victims were atheists. Did they not deserve to be spared from the Christian scriptures?

The mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg, has excluded any religious figures or prayers in this ceremony, in an apparent attempt to avoid any controversies. This, in my view, is a right decision. After all, the democracy of the United States is based on a simple concept of separation of church and state. The president has violated the city mayor's directive.


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