Fact Check

Headlight Memorial for 9/11 Victims

E-mail exhorts Americans to drive with their headlights on during daylights hours on September 11, 2007

Published Aug 19, 2002

Claim:   E-mail exhorts Americans to drive with their headlights on during daylights hours on September 11, 2007.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2007]

Lights on in Memoriam to all the victims of September 11th !!

PLEASE forward this to everyone in your address book asking them to also forward it. Please join us on 9/11. We have over two weeks to get the word out all across this great land we love and call the United
States of America. Let's see how powerful e-mail can be!

On Tuesday, September 11, 2007 everyone in the USA who will be driving a motor vehicle is asked to drive with their headlights on during daylight hours. Though no explanation is needed as to why we are commemorating September 11, we hope more importantly to pay respect to the victims of that day, show our nation's solidarity and show support for our men and women of the Armed Forces.

You can help by sending this e-mail on to others!

Origins:   This

exhortation for Americans to drive with their headlights on during the daylights hours of September 11, 2007, is

an updated-for-2007 version of an e-mail forward that first began circulating in 2002, on the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. To those who ask whether it's "true," we simply note that demonstrations need not be officially organized to be symbolic and meaningful — if an act of memorialization is meaningful to the people observing it, then it's real.

As for the question of whether the headlight memorial is an inherently "good" scheme, we'd say that as a show of solidarity it does provide a simple, highly visible symbolic display. If the issue is to create a memorial scheme which everyone can recognize and participate in, we'd point out that it has a few drawbacks, however:

  • Not everyone can take part, because not everyone drives.
  • The display will not be visible to most people who are not on the road themselves.
  • The scheme is limited to daylight hours.
  • Many people already drive with their headlights on during daylight hours, so the appearance of participation may seem much higher than actual participation.

An alternative scheme such as wearing a designated item or color of clothing that day might require a little more effort and be less visible from a distance, but it would also allow for longer, broader, and more distinguishable participation. This, too, has been proposed for September 11 anniversary observances:

September 11, 2002, is soon approaching. On that day, please wear red, white and blue to work or school to show your support for those who lost their lives on 9-11-01 and to honor the heroes who worked to save them and the families left behind. At noon your time on September 11, 2002, no matter where you are or what you are doing, stop, put your hand on your heart, and say the Pledge of Allegiance out loud or to yourself and say a prayer for our nation. If all of us do this together in every time zone around the world, we will have a powerful chain of thoughts surrounding us. Please keep this going to your friends and family. By September 11, 2002, hopefully enough people will have read this and will join together in unity.

In this case, the best way of offering a visual tribute to the victims of 9/11 might just be the official one: Since 2001, September 11 has been designated as Patriot Day, a discretionary day of remembrance for which the President annually issues a proclamation calling upon Americans to "display the flag of the United States at half-staff in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Last updated:   8 September 2007


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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