There is nothing that cleans up the dust of a tragedy like a crisp new flag or a shiny white "I Love NY" T-shirt. When did being patriotic or mourning a tragedy mean that one has to be adorned from head to toe in the most recent consumer trend colors of red, white and blue? Consumer response to the Sept. 11 tragedy is proof that America is represented more by the "almighty dollar" and a red, white and blue propaganda symbol rather than the Statue of Liberty and freedom.
Even after a year, America did not forget to mourn the loss of many innocent American lives with the many purchases of T-shirts, flags and NYPD/NYFD paraphernalia. The blanketing of red, white and blue images started directly after Sept. 11 when companies began displaying "we are proud sponsors of the 9/11 Fund" and a flowing American flag at the end of all their commercials.
Once one company displays this "patriotic" message, all others must follow or be labeled as unpatriotic or unsupportive of the tragedy in the eyes of the American public. The one-year anniversary had the advertising community licking its chops again to add flags and pictures of the tragedy to commercials, magazines and other forms of media to show the world that their car dealers, grocery and department stores aren't above putting a price on human life. How much is your life worth: a flag, a mass-produced T-shirt and a remembrance button? Tragedy isn't a fashion trend.
The twin towers that once soared over New York City are now a fenced-in hole in the ground. The once quiet Financial District in Manhattan is now a bustle with vendors and onlookers. Tourists now line the streets to peer through a fence where the two prominent structures once stood, reducing the tragedy to nothing more than a 30-second photo opportunity a sports figure.
Directly across the street, vendors have set up shop to cash in on the loss of innocent American lives through the sale of tragedy videos, pictures and books. If our economy is truly in trouble, the sale of a few more flags, T-shirts and Sept. 11 videos, pictures and books is certain to cause a rebound soon.
We as Americans have to understand that the quantity of flags and red, white and blue attire doesn't make us more patriotic or mournful for those who innocently lost their lives. The true tragedy is that America is more concerned with profiting from a tragedy than actually remembering. So again, how much is your life worth?