Memorial Daze | Vox Pop | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Memorial Daze 

Do we have to pick favorites, even among the dead?



On television, I just watched another corpse float by somewhere in New Orleans. But I knew I was not allowed to be particularly sad about it. Because I've learned that some corpses are more important than others.



People traveled thousands of miles to stare at the dead Pope corpse. But believe it or not, even his Funny-Hatness is not the most important corpse. Clearly the most important dead people of all time are the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001.


How do I know? I was at PNC Park on a recent Sunday and once again the public-address announcer informed us that we were singing "God Bless America" to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.


Funny, I thought. I was really bummed about the people dying in New Orleans through government neglect or incompetence or racism or whatever the truth of this shameful debacle is. Those corpses were fresh in my mind. For my radio show I had interviewed an old meteorologist buddy of mine who until recently lived in New Orleans, and he seemed particularly upset about seeing dead baby corpses first-hand in New Orleans. I'm thinking of calling him up and informing him that his grief is misplaced. Apparently if you died on 9/11 you're a saint. Otherwise, you're just another corpse.


Al Fondy, a local teachers' union president, died not long ago. Al was my favorite Bush-basher. You could just mention the president's name to Al and he'd start foaming at the mouth, literally. They're holding a big public remembrance of Al in a few weeks. I just hope they don't go overboard. It's not like he died on 9/11 or something. Sheesh.


My veterinarian has to be the unluckiest guy in the world. He was minding his own business in North Park, getting some exercise riding his bicycle. Apparently he didn't know that local drivers don't really count bicycles as legitimate road vehicles. Some driver hit him from behind, he landed face first on the pavement, and died shortly thereafter.


He was in incredibly likable Irish guy who spoke with an irresistible lilt right out of a Lucky Charms commercial. And he didn't even mind if I made some dumb Lucky Charms joke. He was willing to tolerate this stupid American alleged humor, which is one reason I liked him so much. He's dead now. I wish I could be properly saddened by his loss. If only he had died on 9/11. Damn.


I'm one of those nutty people who's not crazy about the war in Iraq. Yep, I even like that crazed woman Cindy Sheehan, who has the nerve to be publicly heartbroken about her son the soldier's death in Iraq. I'm not quite sure why the public-address announcer at PNC Park doesn't call for us to remember all those who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan when we sing "God Bless America." Except of course, that they didn't die on 9/11.


Excuse my tackiness, and if you've made it this far you must have done that, but I'm more saddened by those who die in Iraq than Afghanistan. While both are equally courageous and heroic, in my view Afghanistan was a necessary response to being attacked, and Iraq is a contrived lunacy that has hurt, not helped, the war on terrorism. So I view the soldiers' deaths in Iraq as unnecessary. What a crazy out-of-touch peacenik, huh?


Here's another radical notion. I'm kinda bummed about the thousands of Iraqi civilians who died when we invaded and who are still dying today. Yes, I know about Saddam and the thousands of horrible deaths he caused. My tax dollars didn't fund those. (Did they?) Anyway, none of those people died on 9/11, so, whaddaya gonna do?


Despite the endless sarcasm here, I have great respect for the heroics of those who took over the plane in Pennsylvania on 9/11, and great sadness for all those who died here and in New York City and Washington.


But there are equally tragic deaths each week, and at some point we've got to move on.


I can't wait for the hate mail from the enlightened who will explain to me why a dead baby in New Orleans is so much less important than the guy in the World Trade Center.


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