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Quote of the Day: Vin Scully on the 9/11 anniversary

Sep 12, 2011, 10:30 AM EST

Dodger Stadium 9 11

Apart from some random aside kind of things I have refrained from doing a big 9/11 remembrance post. Mostly because — despite our being implored to “never forget” — I find it pretty unpleasant to think about. And it’s not like there’s any chance those of us who were adults when that went down are going to forget anyway. Though yes, I realize that it’s incumbent on us to make sure those who come later don’t.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t do particularly well with death and mourning and tragedy, and I’ve never been able to say anything particularly inspiring or thoughtful at these times.  My biggest weapon against darkness is a dark, defensive humor, and this is one of those occasions where even I know that humor is not appropriate.

Thankfully we have people like Vin Scully. He has the depth and perspective due to his character and his age to be able to put this sort of thing in context. And he did so prior to yesterday’s Dodgers-Giants game. While noting that things like Pearl Harbor and D-Day have inevitably faded from living memory, he reminded us of the importance of doing whatever we can to prevent it from happening:

“We had a lead, gray morning, slowly burning off to a brilliant sunrise, making you think of that beautiful day in New York 10 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001. Certainly a day in which God must have wept, wept over man’s inhumanity to man. A day of heroes and a day of horror … But it should also bring some honor for as we watch rising from the ashes of New York, like the Phoenix itself, the high-rises that will once again be a testimony to the heart and soul of this great country. I remember Ronald Reagan once said, ‘If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.’ And you might notice today, above all days, you will hear God’s name mentioned, and we hope, not in vain.”

You can read everything he had to say over at the Los Angeles Times, along with a video of his first words following the Dodgers’ return to action after 9/11.

  1. Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    This really isn’t an appropriate time to make a snide comment about religion, so I won’t, but I do wish that people didn’t immediately start up the religious discourse when talking about a tragic event like 9/11. I, for one, don’t mention god’s name when remembering a tragedy, and I don’t believe in the whole “one nation under God” sentiment (largely because it’s used by conservatives to justify homophobia and backwards thinking), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I remember exactly where I was when I found out what had happened, I remember listening to President Bush’s speech that night (probably the only time I ever felt like I was on his side), and I remember the general sense of shell-shock that we all couldn’t shake. It was probably the most monumental event of my lifetime to date and hopefully it will stay that way. I certainly understand why some people turn to religion to deal with something like this, and I would never begrudge someone their beliefs or the comfort they derive from them. I guess I just wish that there wasn’t this idea that religion is the only appropriate way to respond.

    • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      I think You’re taking it the wrong way. You say it’s fine to practice your religion, but when people do that, you seem to think it’s being pushed on those who aren’t religious. By people merely exercising their freedom you seem offended. Don’t take others beliefs as an offense to your non-beliefs. Religion, as long as it exists will be pushed onto others, but this is not an example of it. This is people using their freedom to do so, that’s all. Just as you have the right to be offended by people expressing religion, they still have the right to express their beliefs. Maybe your offense to them is more troublesome than them expressing their faith ever will be?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        Just as you have the right to be offended by people expressing religion, they still have the right to express their beliefs.

        [Playing Devil’s Advocate]
        Except the former have a lot more opportunities to express themselves, publicly and broadcast to a national TV audience, than the latter.

        Anyway, I prefer the Guiliani/Lorne Michaels exchange on the first episode of SNL after the attacks:
        Michaels: Can we be funny?
        Guiliani: Why start now?

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM

        Respectfully, I think you’re taking my comment the wrong way. Scully quoted Ronald Reagan thus: ‘If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.” That’s the kind of comment that bothers me. The idea that someone would turn to religion for comfort or solace is perfectly fine with me, regardless of my own beliefs (or lack thereof). I object to the idea that a world in which there are non-religious people is a world that is inherently doomed. I want religious folk to accept atheists, just as I want atheists to accept religious people. And specifically in the context of 9/11, I want everyone to be able to think about it, remember it, and respond to it in his or her own way.

        (Please forgive the accidental duplication of this further down.)

      • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        Copo, not as much of a platform as baseball or football. That’s how far past religion sports have come. The new religion of the US is Sports isn’t it? lol…

        Look, I don’t have a problem with people praising god, but I do have a problem with people trying to make them stop it. (not saying Matt did that at all, he only showed distaste in it) That’s infringing on someone’s rights imo. And I’m not a religious man. I just recognize the importance of it all to some, and it is important if they feel it is.

    • bigharold - Sep 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM

      “I guess I just wish that there wasn’t this idea that religion is the only appropriate way to respond.”

      It’s unavoidable inasmuch as it’s a belief system that is usually at the core of an individual, .. the thing that you fall back on in extraordinary times almost reflexively.

      There is a fine line, .. a delicate balance between respectfully expressing ones beliefs versus being overbearing and disrespectful of others that may not share your beliefs. It is subject to context and is different in every situation. At issues, it would seem to me, is when you use your beliefs and therefore your right to express them to leverage some moral or political point.

      With all due respect to Vince Scully, I think his reference to Reagan’s quote was a poor choice. Invoking the need to keep religion in our thoughts and behavior juxtaposition to the fact that the men the committed the act were religious zealots that were most likely chanting “Allah Akbar”, which loosely translated means “God is great” while they committed this heinous unfathomable act seems ironic and just wrong.

      While I do believe in “A God” I’m not particularly religious myself but I’ve no problem with reasonable expressions of one’s religion. Of course the devil is always in the details, again subject to topic, said expression and context. Nevertheless, I can’t help thinking that more people have been killed throughout history in the name of God than anything else. Perhaps, it’s more important to behave as if we believe in God than go around talking about it so much?

  2. Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Respectfully, I think you’re taking my comment the wrong way. Scully quoted Ronald Reagan thus: ‘If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.” That’s the kind of comment that bothers me. The idea that someone would turn to religion for comfort or solace is perfectly fine with me, regardless of my own beliefs (or lack thereof). I object to the idea that a world in which there are non-religious people is a world that is inherently doomed. I want religious folk to accept atheists, just as I want atheists to accept religious people. And specifically in the context of 9/11, I want everyone to be able to think about it, remember it, and respond to it in his or her own way.

    • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Well Matt, that’s a belief Reagan had, and Vin as well. They expressed it. You weren’t really a fan of that. I’m not picking on you, but more of an Atheist mindset I see. It just seems an Atheist takes more offense to a Christian being a Christian, or a Jew being a Jew, than a Christian would be of a Jew or Muslim practicing their religion, or vice versa. I hold no grudge for Atheism, it’s a scientific way to look at life, and that’s fine. But I don’t like to see others told they have to be quiet to make sure the Atheists in the crowd aren’t offended.

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Ok, but there’s a pronounced difference between having personal convictions and the idea that society will crumble to ruin if any other belief exists, and if you can’t see that difference then you’re not looking hard enough. The argument that atheists are irritable and easily offended is a common one, but it doesn’t really hold up. Consider it from an atheist perspective. Religious messages are everywhere in society. I can’t go a day without coming face to face with somebody’s religious beliefs. And while I don’t share those beliefs, I also don’t take issue with anyone. If, as you say, atheists go nuts at the first mention of religion, we’d be going nuts 24/7. Atheists are actually, in my experience, more difficult to provoke than most. We have to be. Again, the issue is with someone saying that society will crumble if there are non-religious people in it. And if you don’t think that comments like that are offensive, try putting them in other terms. If I said that a society with Christians in it is doomed, people would be upset. And let’s not even talk about what would happen if we replace religion with race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, etc. You’d be vilified.

      • wintwins - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        If we ever forgot that we were one nation under God, we will be one nation that goes under.’

        or

        If we ever forgot that we were one nation under Jesus Christ, we will be one nation that goes under

        or

        If we ever forgot that we were one nation under Allah, we will be one nation that goes under

        or

        If we ever forgot that we were one white nation, we will be one nation that goes under.

        Yes, the wordplay dies with the changes, and yes, no one (worth taking seriously) claims that this is supposed to be a white nation / Islamic nation. Nevertheless, you have to see how this is a scary line of thought to travel down.

      • woodenulykteneau - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        It’s rather odd quoting a president in his plea for national unity; the same president who *chose* to deliver his first major campaign speech — propounding “State’s Rights” — after his party’s nomination in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

      • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:43 PM

        Vin and Regan stated their religious beliefs. You didn’t like it. With all due respect Matt, you’re saying you can voice your beliefs (dislike of a religious speech) while you’d like Scully to stop voicing his. This is the cry of the Atheist, then we get to hear about how you’re surrounded by it everywhere so it’s ok for you to express your beliefs that it should be stopped. Why can’t the “Atheist” in everyone just allow others to voice their beliefs without saying how it’s an insult to them when Muslims Christians, and Jews can do it regardless of the terrible past they share? I mean, you guys are supposed to be the more progressive scientific thinkers and all. Be it then. Don’t let “them” bother you when they talk about their “gods”. It’s that simple.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        With all due respect Matt, you’re saying you can voice your beliefs (dislike of a religious speech) while you’d like Scully to stop voicing his

        Except he’s not saying that. And apologies for putting words into his mouth, it’s the exact phrasing that Matt has an issue with. As he’s mentioned, stating that a life without God/Christ will lead to ruin is offensive to him (and to me as well, and I’m a Catholic).

      • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        Copo, who said this?

        “This really isn’t an appropriate time to make a snide comment about religion, so I won’t, but I do wish that people didn’t immediately start up the religious discourse when talking about a tragic event like 9/11. I, for one, don’t mention god’s name when remembering a tragedy, and I don’t believe in the whole “one nation under God” sentiment (largely because it’s used by conservatives to justify homophobia and backwards thinking),”

        Now you, a “Catholic” are offended more by what Scully said than by that? You are either A) full of crap and want to debate someone, or b) are an Atheist who doesn’t even know it. And Matt wasn’t being specific to the comments from Scully when this began mind you. He said he doesn’t want god brought into the conversation at the beginning until I called him out on it.

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        My intent with the quote you provided was to express that it is possible to appreciate the significance of a tragic event without turning to religion, and that I dislike the fairly common idea that religion is the only possible way to respond to such an event. Maybe I phrased my comments poorly, but my intent was not to say that people shouldn’t bring up their beliefs, but rather that people should not assume that everyone shares those beliefs. When Scully says “…and, we hope, not in vain,” he is making a claim towards universality of opinion on the subject. He implies that, on a day like 9/11, everyone prays and hopes that their prayers are heard, or whatever he’s getting at specifically. Again, and I can’t say this enough, my issue is that I think comments like this are unfair to those of us who care about what happened, or were affected by it (whether personally or otherwise), but don’t bring god into the equation.

      • Jonny 5 - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:39 PM

        Matt, fair enough. I think that you have every right to express your beliefs, just as much as any religious person. As long as it isn’t a wish to hush others from expressing theirs. That’s all. And I do see a large vocal crowd gathering steam to do exactly that, hush down the religious as they say their peace. Maybe you weren’t the best example of that and I only hope you can respect the rights of others as much as your own.

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        I genuinely don’t want to hush anybody, and I’m being completely sincere when I say that. I do wish that people would respect (and dare I say appreciate?) the diversity around them, but part of that wish is for people to show more tolerance for others’ views rather than less.

      • CJ - Sep 12, 2011 at 2:24 PM

        Matt,

        That quote is decades old now…criticizing that quote in today’s context accomplishes what, exactly?

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 3:00 PM

        Sure, the quote is old, but it was used (and therefore considered relevant) yesterday. I mean, the Bible is old, but people still get some mileage talking about it. Also, regardless of the age of the quote, you can’t deny that the sentiment still exists today. So criticizing the quote now accomplishes exactly what criticizing a brand new quote would accomplish – that being a whole lot or nothing depending on how you want to look at it.

      • nolanwiffle - Sep 12, 2011 at 3:30 PM

        Because it’s kind of a rock ‘n’ roll day around here today…..”God is a concept by which we measure our pain”.

        John Lennon’s words, not mine. But then again he was a grown man dressing up as a walrus….so take anything he says with a grain of salt.

      • CJ - Sep 12, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        Matt,

        for stating at the outset about not making snide comments about religion, you sure are doing a hell of a job at it. Regan and Scripture are on slightly different planes I woud think, even in your view.

        There’s nothing wrong with Regan’s quote in its context at that point in history. There isn’t much wrong with it today either. It was said, it was one man’s opinion (now Scully’s too). Get over it. If you don’t like it, next time Scully quotes Regan, just stick your fingers in your ears and scream. Or come here and post about why it’s wrong. Both are well within your right, just as it was well with Scully’s right to say what he said.

      • cerveceros82 - Sep 12, 2011 at 5:05 PM

        CJ, How is any of what Matt D. said considered snide? It all sounded measured and earnest to me. I haven’t heard anyone on this board suggest that Reagan, Scully, nor anyone else refrain from talking about their faith. I think Matt had a similar reaction to the quote as I did, and carefully explained why that particular sentence was hurtful. People of all faiths, as well as non-faith, tend to take issue’s about religion fairly seriously, because it is a serious topic. And it can be hard to see others point of view, because our own point of view’s are pretty strong when it comes to matters of faith. Matt, I think, expressed himself well and was in no way snide or condescending in his remarks. I find it hard to believe that Raegan or Scully intended to be hurtful or exclusive in their comments, but that doesn’t mean they were not.

        For those of us who choose to deal with events like these not in prayer or church, it kind of sucks to hear someone as beloved as Vin Scully basically say that my non-belief in god contributes to this nation going under. I love this country, and am confident that I in no way contribute to a demise of it. It hurts when people, people like Presidents and icons of my favorite game, make statements that lay such a heavy claim towards my personal beliefs. It’s hard not to take it personally and fight back.

      • Matt D. - Sep 12, 2011 at 8:47 PM

        Thank you.

  3. yankeesfanlen - Sep 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Preface # 1: I was more affected by 9/11 than 99% of Americans (Think: 3million were affected more) because of having my out-of-town best friend attending a conference at the Marriott that morning and obviously being unable for many hours to locate him.
    Preface # 2: I, apparently like Craig, am in the lower percentiles of handling shocking, unexpectedy horrific tragedies well.

    On the evening of 9/11, after ascertaining that Rob was able, through emergency transportation (NYPD Harbor Patrol boat) and free NJT buses, to make it back to my little suburban town, there were priorities to be handled. It had been clothes-on-his-back survival, covered with soot, no wallet or other everyday provisions, so off to the local discount house for that. And calls to reassure relatives in Michigan that he made it through.
    Approaching dusk and unable to comprehend the cascade of TV reports, we took a walk around the neighborhood. An inordinate number of people were outside their homes with a similiar affliction. Chatting, shaking heads, speculating about whether this incursion was to be more wide-spread than it already was.Every last police vehicle were on the streets, literally not knowing what they would face, or how they would deal with it.
    The next evening, an impromtu gathering was organized and the people you would least expect to assemble were on our front lawn with an American flag offering not a prayer service but commiseration of what everyone felt and feared. The uncertainty, and to a degree, helplessness were palpible. The uniting as citizens was unquestioned.
    Rob got the next flight back to Detroit on Saturday and life went on. For me, it wasn’t business, it wasn’t politics, it was personal.

  4. aaronmoreno - Sep 12, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    “This really isn’t an appropriate time to make a snide comment about religion, so I won’t.”

    There.

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