An Amazingly Wide Mix of 9/11 Commemorations in the Offing

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September 2, 2011; Source: New York Times | As the nation gets ready to honor, remember, and commemorate the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the nonprofit sector is well-reflected in the mix of cultural events, performances, and ceremonies. 

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there will be the “9/11 Peace Story Quilt” made by children. That makes sense. Meanwhile, it’s a little harder to see the September 11th significance of Karen Finley’s impersonation of Liza Minnelli at the West Bank Cafe. New York Timescultural critic Edward Rothstein notes that there will be plenty of television broadcasts about first responders and others. Hopefully they will remember the post-9/11 work of nonprofits helping families of victims and helping lower Manhattan and Washington DC recover and rebuild. That is, if viewers can find such shows amid offerings that range from the lurid—such as a show on “messages received from the dead of Sept. 11”—to the puzzling: “a chronicle of Paul McCartney’s experiences on Sept. 11.”

Rothstein observes,

The sheer quantity of cultural events is overwhelming; so is their scattered miscellany, a potpourri of sentiment and argument, memorialization and self-criticism, reflection and political polemic. It seems as if every cultural institution, television network, and book publisher feels duty-bound to produce some sort of Sept. 11 commemoration. Is there a precedent for this almost compulsive variety show about an attack on a nation’s people?

We would like to hear the reactions of NPQ Newswire readers on the 9/11 commemorations:

  1. What kind of 9/11 commemorations will your nonprofit join or sponsor? Why? What kinds of commemorations do you think are appropriate—and what might be somewhat beyond the pale?
  2. The White House is downplaying the commemoration of the terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda, etc., choosing to refer to the event as “the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance” to support service projects and a “spirit of unity.” Do you think that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 should downplay the specifics of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? 
  3. Despite the recent flurry of investigations of nonprofits that misused charitable donations made to address 9/11 charitable concerns, plenty of nonprofits did outstanding work in the immediate and long-term responses to that tragic day. What should the nonprofit sector do to recognize, honor, and educate others about the responses of nonprofits to 9/11 issues?

—Rick Cohen