It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On a beautiful fall day, airplanes came out of the clear blue sky and rained death upon thousands of Americans. Commuter trains and phone lines were jammed as the country fell into a state of panic. This was all followed by days of public mourning.
The cliche at the time was that 9/11 changed everything. Perhaps it should have, but it is not entirely clear that this turned out to be true. In some ways, that’s a good thing. The death toll ended up only being about half the 6,000 some outlets were originally reporting. The regular follow-up attacks many of us expected never materialized, though not for a lack of trying. For days after 9/11, my office in Boston was regularly evacuated due to bomb scares. Now everything is back to normal.
Except the way the country has been roiled by debates over civil liberties and foreign policy, the First Amendment and dealing with Islam, immigration and homeland security. That dark day that forever erased the World Trade Center from New York City’s landscape did change some things.
Ultimately, there is little that can be said about these topics that hasn’t been written before. There is even less that can be said that will do justice to the memories of those whose lives were lost either in the attacks or while trying to save their countrymen, either in rescue attempts ten years ago or in the fight against terrorism that continues to this day. Less still can probably said to comfort the family and friends they have left behind.
But we remember. And we know two things: America is still here and bin Laden is rotting in hell.