OT: 9/11 Memorial

I’m working with a friend who has been fundraising for a memorial pond to commemorate victims of terrorism (our town lost 3 residents in the WTC and 1 in the flight over Lockerbie a number of years back). There will be a memorial for the 5th year anniversary of Sept. 11th.

Here’s the question that I know you all will give honest feedback about. One of the other organizers lost her brother in the twin towers. In addition to remembering those lost and paying respects, she indicated it would be nice to have a program that not only remembers our loss of loved ones, but celebrates life.

A member of Kool and the Gang lives in our town. He will be performing a new song he’s written that is a touching song called “American Family”. Hearing about the desire for an upbeat aspect, he suggested closing with his most famous song “Celebrate.” You certainly know this song: “Celebrate good times, c’mon…There’s a party goin’ on around here…A celebration to last throughout the year…”

I can’t imagine anyone would pick this song as part of a 9/11 memorial, but will the fact that he wrote and will perform the song make a difference? Is it possible to provide an introduction that would position this appropriately? Will people find this utterly the worst taste possible? They are reaching out to other victim’s families to get their take on it, but what do you all think?


I think the only people who can give true opinions on that are the people whose loved ones are being memorialized. I think we will all have varying opinions on it on both sides of the spectrum but the people who lost their loved ones are going to feel it the most and are the ones whose opinions should really be taken into consideration.

I agree the family opinions are vital. I just got an email copy of the program to proof and the Celebrate song is not included. I don’t know if that means it hasn’t been decided yet or if it is out.

I lost some one in the North Tower and while I love the idea of memorializing those who were killed and celebrating life I’m not sure that the “Celebrate” song is appropriate at all. While celebrating life is important the main point of the day will be to memorialize those who were killed and the line “there is a party going on around here” seems to contridict the memorial part of the day. Does that make any sense?

That is just my thoughts though, I do understand if others think the song is appropriate.

I agree with sara j. I wouldn’t like to hear ‘there’s a party goin’ on around here’ if I lost someone. Got to be better songs than that. It’s just wow, way off. Would make me sad.

Ditto what sj said.

I am blessed to have my family intact. But if my dh were to have died just 5 years ago, I can’t imagine my children taking this part of the memorial in the full sense that it would be intended. They may and they may not. Although our life would reflect the celebration of our own lives continuing. I would want the memorial to still be a time to mourn openly.

You asked for honest feedback…

I’m appalled. The song is insensitive, inappropriate, and bizarrely wrong for this occasion. I’d say it’s right up there with singing “Smoke Gets in My Eyes” at a memorial for victims of the Holocaust.

In this case “celebration” means an acknowledgement of the lives that were lost and a determination to go on with life. It doesn’t mean a bloomin’ dance party. A “celebration of life” is a nice thought, but keep it in context.

If the singer can’t figure that out, maybe you should get someone else. I mean, people are coming to this event to commemorate a tragedy, not to be entertained. Why are we so impressed with ditzy celebrities, anyway?

(Full disclosure: my friend, who was at the Towers on the morning of 9/11/01, was able to run for his life, and spent the rest of the day and night helping to evacuate residents of nearby apartments to New Jersey by ferry boat. Personally, I was lucky enough only to be affected by the smoke and the smell that blanketed the city for weeks. I can only imagine the feelings of those who lost people in the attack.)

While I did not lose any family in the Twin Towers, most of you know that we lost Elizabeth in combat last year. I have to say that I would be most unhappy if such a song were played at a memorial, even 5 years later.

Sometimes I wonder if people are scared of feeling sad. A memorial is meant to evoke some pain and sadness in us. It reminds us of the tremendous sacrifice that so many families made, both from 9/11 and the resultant War on Terror. There is a certain solemnity that accompanies this day, and I hope it always does. There are 364 other days to celebrate life and “good times”.

I want people to pause for a moment or two on Sept. 11, and remember what we collectively experienced as a nation. To trivialize or wash away our pain with weak platitudes does not honor the dead.

Even on Memorial and Veterans Day, we don’t “celebrate”. We remember. We thank those who were affected and who sacrificed. And yes, we are sad. Thank God.


Same here! Really tasteless!

I agree with everyone else. I have a friend who lost her husband in the towers and I know after just five years that she is not “celebrating.” She still misses him very much and is not through grieving. It is out of respect for her pain that I have not watched any of the Hollywood produced movies “memorializing” that tragic day in this world. (Not that I really want to relive that day though cinema anyway). There are plenty of good songs that could be sung that would be much more appropriate.

I have sung at nearly 200 funerals. The music in a memorial service is meant to comfort and uplift, not as a celebration. :shrug: We talk about “celebrating” peoples’ lives, but that is in the sense of honoring, not jumping up and down and reliving ones’ disco memories.

There have been a few non-traditional selections in some of the funerals I have done. Like “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” for the young father whose favorite activity was coaching his kids’ Little League game. The team held their bats over the aisle like a military salute when the coffin was taken out of church. And there have been a few “Suzy wrote this song for Uncle so-and-so and wants to sing and play the guitar” incidents, which are usually :ick: in practice, but they are meaningful for the family and that makes them special.

I sang for the funeral of a sailor who was killed in Bahrain. His two little girls broke my heart, they were toddlers wearing sailor dresses. It still makes me cry. Sometimes it’s just hard to keep from choking up when you do these things.

And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Personalizing is okay for an individual service (within reason), but group memorials ought to respect everyone.

My two cents…