Yesterday, I heard Oprah Winfrey call for September 11th to be made a national holiday. Who does she think we are, Serbs? (The most glorious Serbian holiday, Vidovdan, or St. Vitus' day, celebrates their military disaster while fighting the Turks in Kosovo, or defending Christian Europe as they like to put it.) Hey, we're Americans and we celebrate victory and success. December 7th, a far worse battlefield defeat in terms of its implications for the nation is not a national holiday and for good reason.
Take a look at some of our holidays. The 4th of July celebrates the triumph of individual liberty and rights. Veterans Day originally celebrated the end of World War I, also a victory. The birthdays of Washington and Lincoln are especially instructive. Washington is revered for the determination he brought in bringing those ideals to fruition. Lincoln saved the Union and in so doing enshrined the idea that our nation was dedicated to the freedom and liberty of all peoples. (More specifically, it was unacceptable to break the compact of the constitution in order to perpetuate injustice.) Memorial day celebrates sacrifice of our service men and women, but not defeat.
We celebrate that which gives meaning to our nation. Ours is not a nation of a single ethnic or racial composition, not even of a single language, but a "nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." We celebrate the triumph of our ideals on our national holidays. And on those days where we experience temporary defeat, we pause, mourn and reflect, never forgetting what we stand for.