It's as if the Grinch set his sights on July 4 instead of Christmas.
Americans know they should be feeling something on Sept. 11 - something patriotic, something quintessentially American. But at the same time, they know the day can't come, as Dr. Seuss might say, with ribbons and tags, or packages, boxes or bags. Fourth of July without the joy and trimmings.
This has to be done just right. The anniversary of the worst terror attack in American history must be dignified, solemn and subdued - yet proud, patriotic and perhaps a little defiant.
It's tricky business - so much so that nationally, some advertisers have been said to be skittish about the day. Ah, but isn't part of the message of Sept. 11 the need to conquer our fears?
We don't need to avoid this day. We don't want to. We can do this. And we can do it right.
That's certainly the plan in Augusta, anyway.
Augusta Mayor Bob Young deftly put the city's observance of Sept. 11 in the capable hands of former U.S. Rep. Doug Barnard - and his committee is planning a day of commemoration that will sound just the right chord for the delicate occasion.
Calling it a day of "Remembrance and Recognition," the committee urges the greater Augusta area to respectfully remember Sept. 11 victims while proudly recognizing the many heroes who emerged from it.
Schools at every level will stage their own unique observances Sept. 11. Churches will be asked to toll their bells at 8:46 a.m., the moment of the first attack on the World Trade Center. Law enforcement officers will blare their sirens to herald a moment of silence.
At noon, a number of civic groups will convene for a $15 luncheon at Bell Auditorium to hear the Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School band, as well as choir music, and a keynote address by retired Air Force Gen. Perry Smith, a military analyst for network news.
That night, the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band will perform in the Jessye Norman Ampitheater beginning at 7 p.m.
Barnard is taking this commemoration seriously, as should we all. He hopes it will be a day not just of remembrance and recognition, but of awareness and unity. One thing is certain.
It will be a day to remember.