In a little over a month it will be Dec. 7, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This day, much like 9/11, is a historical remembrance of the feelings and consequences resulting from an enemy strike. These attacks have something else in common: neither should be treated as a paid holiday.
Police in Peabody, Mass. may be the first in the nation to get extra holiday pay for working on the anniversary of 9/11. The provision is part of a four-year contract between the city and its police union, according to the Associated Press. The contract-provision will give officers an extra 25 percent over regular pay. Despite numerous attempts to contact the department (five voice messages were left), my calls were not returned.
When I think of 9/11, "tragedy" is the first word that pops into my head, not "holiday."
The Peabody Police Department lost no officers in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The New York City Police Department, has yet to recognize the anniversary as a paid holiday and they lost 23 officers.
When I think of 9/11, “tragedy” is the first word that pops into my head, not “holiday,” and I’m not the only one.
“I don’t think anyone should get holiday pay,” N.Y.P.D. Sgt. Robert Ruggiero says. “It’s not a holiday. There is nothing to celebrate. If you were there it’s your job. People around the country came to take bodies out. They volunteered on their own time and worked day and night” (In the interest of full disclosure, Ruggiero is my uncle).
If the anniversary is given any label, it should be a “day of remembrance.”
“Any money being paid to someone on a day of remembrance, I would hope they would donate to charity,” says Greg Ander, St. Michael’s senior and political science major.
Instead of giving the officers extra money, the Peabody Police Department should directly donate that money to a fund that helps the families of 9/11 victims.
If police departments are going to get extra pay, what about fire departments and all other departments that responded to the attacks? Or more than that, if the reason for the “holiday” is to remember the lives of those killed, then shouldn’t every American have the day off?
The problem is Americans have a tendency to degrade holidays over time. After all, Christmas is really all about presents, overeating, and hanging shiny bulbs on a tree, right? Baby Jesus, who’s that? Oh, he’s that kid who was born in a manger to a virgin, right?. And don’t forget Memorial Day. B.O.G.O at Payless, count me in!
“If it was a national holiday, nobody would really celebrate it for the purpose of its establishment,” Ruggiero says.
I admit it; I’m guilty too. Nothing gets me excited like a Memorial Day BBQ. Cheeseburger, toasted bun, and pasta salad—count me in. Flag cake, umm yea!
“We should be remembering the people who died for this country, and how many people actually do that?" Ruggiero says. "The families of those who died and veterans, that’s it.”
Here’s the solution: establish a police officer Memorial Day. Police officers around the country die every day. In the past 10 years, 1,635 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
“If [the Peabody Police Department] gets the extra holiday pay, I think it is disgusting and offensive,” Ruggiero says.
When the anniversary of 9/11 comes next year, think about what really matters: helping those who are still feeling the repercussions of loss. Donate to a charity; visit the gravesite of an emergency responder who lost his or her life during the tragedy. If money is on your mind, give, don’t receive. It’s fine to have BBQs and spend time with friends and family. After all, 9/11 brought much loss to America, and what is more tragic than losing a loved one? Just remember that not every crisis is meant to be a holiday, and if it is a holiday, never let the window displays obscure the true meaning of the day.