Eleven years ago today, America wondered how life could possibly go on. Today we see we are moving on — safer, or more complacent? Are we forgetting 9/11 in any sense, or are we just better able to cope? Give us your thoughts.
Eleven years ago today, America wondered how life could possibly go on. Would we ever find joy again? Would we ever be free of terror?
Today we see we are moving on. We’ve cleaned up, and we’ve rebuilt. A new tower has taken shape in lower Manhattan where American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were directed to crash on Sept. 11, 2001.
Memorials now stand in New York City, at the Pentagon, near where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed, and in Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 went down.
We remember 9/11 as a nation in institutional ways, on television and in our politics. We remember as individuals in deeply personal ways as family and friends of people who died that day and of soldiers who continue to die in America’s wars on terror — and as Americans with no blood connection, but who were nonetheless traumatized.
Do we feel safer now? or more complacent? Are we forgetting 9/11 in any sense? or are we just better able to cope with threats than before?
Many things have changed. At first, we bristled at increased security in airports and at public events. Now, we’re used to it. In fact, we may be a bit more likely to wonder if the person next to us is a grave security threat.
Last week a US Airways flight was grounded in Philadelphia after a man called the airport to falsely claim that someone on board had a bomb. He was playing a trick on his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. He would have been about 15 years old when those planes struck the World Trade Center — old enough to remember those initial days of terror and uncertainty.
What does this say about what 9/11 means today? For some people — certainly the FBI — the threat remains very real and present. For families of those lost, the wounds may never heal. For others, has the threat of downing an airliner become the stuff of practical jokes?
With each passing year, 9/11 becomes more a historical event and less a shared horror. Millions of teenagers know about the attack from history books, not from having watched live TV coverage of explosions, impossibly enormous clouds of smoke and dust, and smoldering ruins.
Passing time makes the tragedy more distant, but it doesn’t diminish the emotional impact of those who remember. Even so, we should be grateful for the capacity to move on. On the other hand, are we remembering the tragedy in the right ways?
Tell us what you think.