OPINION: We should remember 9/11, but it doesn't need to be another federal holiday

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Sep. 22—Remember 9/11, yes. Make it a holiday, no.

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, is well meaning in introducing legislation to make Sept. 11 a legal public holiday, saying the country pledged "we would never forget," but we believe a number of reasons weigh against such an action.

A practical one is the cost. At the time Juneteenth (June 19) was declared a federal holiday earlier this year, Forbes reported the cost of a federal holiday is $818 million. And that doesn't include pay for the military and for the United States Postal Service.

With a national debt spiraling out of control, the last thing the country needs is another day for federal workers to be paid not to work.

A second is the calendar. The Sept. 11 Day of Remembrance, if it ever became law, would be as close as four days after Labor Day. That means in some years Labor Day would be on Monday and Day of Remembrance on Friday. In other years, one federal holiday would be one week and the second federal holiday the next.

Having two federal holidays the same week or two on consecutive weeks — outside the occasion of Christmas and New Year's Day — seems an inconvenient interruption to work, not to mention the diversion it might create for state and local governments if they choose to make it a holiday.

The main reason for not making 9/11 a federal holiday, though, is because it lets the terrorists win. We're being a little tongue-in-cheek in saying that but not completely.

Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, from his earliest declaration of war against America, linked al Qaeda's attacks to the U.S. economy.

"He and other ... jihadi thinkers," Foreign Policy wrote recently, "had long believed that economic power was the key to America's military might; they thus saw weakening Western economies as their path to victory."

A month after the attacks, bin Laden told Al Jazeera that damage to the U.S. economy was "no less than $1 trillion by the lowest estimate." Three years later, in an address to the U.S. people, he said al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the attacks and that at a low estimate the U.S. had $500 billion damage, "meaning that every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million [U.S.] dollars."

Thus, the country taking another economic hit every Sept. 11 is similar to what bin Laden had in mind.

Does that mean we will forget to "never forget" the terrorist attacks on that clear September day? We don't think so.

Americans who lived through it and those who know their history don't forget that Dec. 7, 1941, was the day the Japanese bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 and wounding 1,178. But that greatest attack on U.S. soil before 9/11 was never made a federal holiday.

Estimates are that only a few hundred survivors of the Hawaii attack that signaled the U.S. entry into World War II are still alive, but ceremonies are held annually on that day to mark the event.

Many others today can recall where they were and what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, when man first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969, when singer Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, when Beatle John Lennon was gunned down at his apartment on Dec. 8, 1980, when an assassin seriously wounded President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, or when the shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986.

Other than 9/11, younger people may recall when Barack Obama was elected the country's first Black president on Nov. 4, 2008, or when a group of extremists breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of this year.

None of them need federal holidays for people to remember them.

The country, in fact, already marks Sept. 11 as a day of remembrance — known as Patriot Day — as it does for Dec. 7, which was designated in 1994 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Indeed while neither day is a federal holiday, the designation does call for the American flag to be flown at half-staff until sunset on both days to honor those who died as a result of the respective attacks.

We would be remiss if we didn't also note that another bill, the For the People Act, has passed the U.S. House this year and would, among other things, make Election Day a federal holiday. The Senate, though, has not voted on it and is not likely to pass it.

Instead of a federal holiday, though, we suggest Americans on future 9/11s go to work as usual, stimulate the economy with their purchases and show bin Laden's al Qaeda that we can both remember what happened on that day and make sure the economy that terrorists then and now want to ruin is not defeated.

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