I was 19 years old at Oglethorpe University on that fateful day 13 years ago. I remember, in slow motion, the details of that day. The people I met. The tone on the campus. The news reports. What my family said to me. I remember it as clear as if it were yesterday. It’s a day that I don’t think anyone who is old enough will ever forget. We lost lives but as always, Americans bounced right back. And as always, American businesses went RIGHT to work capitalizing on the American pride that overwhelmed this nation the months after the 9/11 attacks.
There was an amazing number of commercial products that displayed the American flag or “We won’t forget” after the 9/11 attacks. Before the attacks, you almost had to go to a specialty store or ask a clerk where the “American pride” merchandise was located. But after 9/11, I remember going to a low cost shoe store and there were handbags with American flags EVERYWHERE. I even remember going into a store and purchasing a bed sheet set….ALL with the American flag imprinted on them. At the time, I thought “This is great.” I have always been a little overly patriotic and even though 9/11 was horrific in U.S. history, I felt it brought the country together and NOW…now Americans were realizing our freedoms and ideals and taking pride in their country. Until a few months later, the “American flag” pride slowed to a crawl. And then I felt as if I had been duped by marketers and corporate America into purchasing items to show my American pride only to be let down a few months later.
I said all that to ask a question: Was the commercialization of the American tragedy morally right? I know it’s legal but how do you feel above the above situation? As a business owner, I embrace capitalism, especially American opportunism. But did it go too far? American tragedies will continue to happen. What is acceptable response from American corporations? (Sidenote: Some of the purchases did go to the 9/11 fund for heroes and survivors.)