Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriot Day 2013

Happy Patriot Day to our American friends and family.  To our international readers, I'm not quite sure what to wish you.  Do those outside the US celebrate or mark the day in some way?  I'm sure the day gets recognized on the local news, with a brief report and maybe a sound clip from the President speaking at a memorial somewhere.

What I can't know for sure (yet) is how the day is seen by the common, everyday man and woman outside of the states.  The events of 9/11, known around the world, must have been seen as a tragedy, but maybe one of those faraway tragedies- the ones that happen to a people we can't picture in a place we might never visit.  I hope, in the years to come, to get a better feeling of how people view the USA and its history.  Just the same, I hope to get a better understanding myself of the recent history of the Republic of Ireland and its own hard-won freedom.

The timing of Patriot Day 2013 to an American living abroad is particularly special.  I hope to avoid getting too political, but the current story of the world today is the crisis in Syria.  We have been watching and listening to the local Irish news and have learned a lot about how the decisions of the USA affect and are scrutinized by the rest of the world.  The news headlines, before the awarding of Tidiest Town in Ireland to Moynalty, Co. Meath, are all about the sabre-rattling and threatening going on between Syria, Russia, and the USA.

Ireland, not to put too fine a point on it, is a country with much less economic and military clout than the heavy hitters in this story, so the viewpoint seems to be one of an observer than a major player.  Not to call Ireland a nation of cowards, as many Americans might say about a country reluctant to jump into military action in a faraway land.  What I am receiving is a more international perspective on how the choices made by my own home country resonate worldwide.

On the day of the anniversary of a tragedy, I will be watching and hoping for a peaceful end to this crisis, and I hope the decision-makers of the world keep in mind the international consequences of their choices.  I hope soon the news can put more pleasant stories like the Tidiest Town in Ireland at the top of the newscast.

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