Fair – or Not?

Fall brings with it lots of lovely activities: apple picking, jumping in piles of leaves and, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, the Puyallup Fair. If you know how to pronounce ‘Puyallup,’ you have probably been to this fair which has been a September highlight for our family for the past twenty years.

Ten years ago, just after 9/11, fair attendance was down as dizzying rides, sugar-laden food and down-home entertainment were incompatible with the mourning, confusion and rage gripping the country. I imagine that just as couples shied away from September 11, 2002 wedding dates, the Puyallup Fair on that day in 2002 also had lower than normal attendance rates.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that year by year attendance picked up as people squirmed less at picking September 11th for fun activities. Emotions become less raw as time goes by.

But, as high school reunion organizers know, tenth anniversaries resonate. What will happen this Sunday, September 11, 2011?  For obvious reasons, Sunday is a prime fair-going day. All across America, people will be making decisions as to whether it is unseemly or not to treat the day like any other, or what that even means. While I have many days on which I can choose to attend the fair, I am not even sure what I would say if someone asked my advice as to whether they should go on Sunday or not. The biggest impact of not going might be to harm the finances of vendors – including those with family serving in the military – whose income depends on weekend crowds.   

It is easier when the choice is made for us, isn’t it? This fall, my son and a few of his classmates in medical school have been informed that their grades are going to be negatively impacted by the absences they will accumulate over the upcoming Jewish holidays. This will not change their behavior; God’s directions on how to observe those festivals (which preclude being in school) are commands, not suggestions. They will accept the lower grades and I think their future patients will benefit from being treated by men and women of firm conviction. There is clarity when God is involved.

But it would be completely inappropriate for there to be a ‘command from on high’ from the government on how to commemorate the anniversary of September 11th. As the years pass and fewer people are able to answer the question, “Where were you when you heard the news?” the date will move into history as December 7th has.

 However, this year, most of us not only still remember, but can still resurrect the feelings of horror which overwhelmed us in 2001. The pain of the widows and orphans, parents and friends, and of the whole nation is still fresh and indeed, unlike ten years after Pearl Harbor, we have not yet defeated the enemy. How should we behave this Sunday? What will you be doing?


3 thoughts on “Fair – or Not?”

  1. Though tangential to your main point, I am actually quite surprised (and somewhat appalled) that your son’s medical school is not a bit more accommodating to its observant clientele. Surely, this is not the first the school has encountered people of faith! Has your son sought an audience with the administration – perhaps the Dean of Student Affairs? To be penalized in this, the Land of the Free, for adherence to one’s religious convictions seems… unfair.

  2. Thank you Susan for this powerful food for thought. Not only am I pondering how I will now spend this Sunday, but also whom should be included. I’m wondering if I should expose my daughter to the impact of this day and pray as a family, or wait until she is older. She is eight years old, and very wise for her years. Part of me feels she would gain some value seeing her family coming together and praying in remembrance of the families of 9-11, on the other hand, I wonder how my daughter with the mind of an eight year; old could possibly process what I as a grown woman can hardly comprehend. Thanks again I love reading your musings and learning from you and your husband.

  3. My mother was born Sept. 11, 1928. I met the man who was to become my husband on Sept. 11, 1994. So my personal choice is to rejoice in these two blessings from God rather than to glorify the suffering and pain caused by terrorists. This is not to say I am callous toward that pain and suffering, but I will not deliberately bring it into every Sept. 11 for the rest of my life.
    God, Himself set before His people Life and Death, The Blessing and The Curse, then with the open hand of Life extended said “Choose Life”. The focus becomes the path. My choice is Life.

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