9/11 was a terrible and momentous event in U.S. and World history. It marked a tragic loss of life and horrific attack on the American people and principles. At the same time, the days and weeks that followed saw an incredible galvanization of humanity around the globe.
In the years that have since followed, we have marked this date, every year, with honor and respect and remembrance. Vigils and memorials are held, and people everywhere take a moment to remember both the victims and the heros of that day.
Businesses that attempt to leverage that emotional sentiment to make a few bucks are beneath contempt.
Over the years, we’ve seen honorable days like President’s Day and Memorial Day turn into retailers violently puking ads and jingles on every passerby. And now, it seems, it’s September 11th’s turn.
In Texas, a local mattress company thought it would be a good idea to depict two mattress towers and a screaming woman using two men to knock them down. At the same time, a Wal-Mart though it would be great to create twin towers assembled out of cases of Coca-Cola to inspire purchases of the beverage.
Both initiatives were quickly stopped by other people who clearly have an ounce of good taste, but for every other business and marketer out there who might be considered a 9/11-related sale or event:
How Businesses Can Honor 9/11
Want to honor 9/11? Want to show your audience that you and your business respect the sacrifices that were made that day, and show that you will never forget along with the rest of us? Great! Here are some tasteful ideas:
Share A Quote
Quotes are ways in which we come together and relate to one another. They can be informative, inspiring and insightful.
On a day like 9/11, you can choose to share quotes from famous individuals that weren’t written with that day in mind, but could be applied. For instance:
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
― John F. Kennedy
“I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.”
― Bob Riley
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
― Thomas Campbell
“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”
― Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
― Laurence Binyon
Or, consider sharing some of the dramatic statements made by world leaders and participants in 9/11 at the time of the tragedy, like:
“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”
― President Obama in a 2011 radio address.
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
― President George W. Bush
“If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
― Sandy Dahl, wife of pilot of Flight 93 Jason Dahl
“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
― Senator John Kerry
“You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy.”
― Colin Powell
“This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today. It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life, and we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together and fight it together.”
― British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
― Author David Levithan in his book “Love is the Higher Law.”
“Sept. 11, 2001 seems destined to be the watershed event of our lives and the greatest test for our democracy in our lifetimes.”
― Lt. Col. Shelton F. Leskford, U.S. Marine Corps
“September 11 impressed upon us that life is a precious gift … And I think we all have a duty to devote at least a small portion of our daily lives to ensuring that neither America nor the world ever forgets September 11.”
― Sen. Bill Frist
Sharing quotes like that to your social channels or other mediums for communication reminds not only of the sentiments expressed, but of the community for which we are all a part.
Post A Memorable Graphic
Instead of, or perhaps alongside, one of the quotes above, you might share a memorable graphic. Again, the Internet is awash with images to use, but be sure that any image you don’t create yourself comes with complete permission to use in that way.
If you use Google, for instance, type in your search and click on the Images tab, then click on Search Tools and then Image Rights. Select Labelled for Reuse with Modification to filter and see only the images you’re allowed to download and repurpose.
Here are some examples (which you can use if you like):
You might also try a site like pixabay.com where every image is copyright free and available for your use. Like this one:
Better yet, use Canva to create a graphic of your own. Use a template or solid colors, or an image your find on Pixabay, and marry it with one of those quotes above.
Be Mindful Of Your Audience
As you’re thinking about how you would like to honor 9/11, give some thought to your audience. How will they be honoring the day? What do you think they would appreciate hearing from you?
What have you done in the past? What have they? For that matter, what do your peers, colleagues and competitors tend to do on September 11th each year? Take a que from them.
That’s right. As a business, you should not feel obligated to say something on every holiday and event and date. If you’re not sure what to do or say, and none of the above ideas seem to fit your business, voice or audience, it’s OK to simply honor the day in your own way and keep quiet, particularly on social media.
Whatever you do, just make sure you’re not doing anything that might be construed as taking advantage of a day like 9/11. I promise you, it will backfire in every way imaginable.
P.S. If you agree with me and think that businesses who want to take advantage of 9/11 are out of their minds, will you please share this? Other business owners and marketers desperately need to read this message. As soon as I heard about that mattress company and Wal-Mart, I knew there were people out there who needed to read this. Please hit all the buttons below and spread the word. 9/11 sales are NOT OK.