Editorial – The lost lessons of 9/11

Published 6:40 pm Friday, September 9, 2022

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The meaning of this date changed forever 21 years ago. Anyone who lived through it can attest that the horrible events of that day altered much more than the way we look at the calendar.

In so many ways, there is before Sept. 11, 2001, and after. As the before continues to recede further into the past, we are always compelled to remember the loss and lasting impact of that day for all that has happened after.

There was shared horror at the largest loss of life to a terrorist attack on American soil, followed by a shared loss for those who lost their lives in the attack, gave their lives trying to save others and the thousands who were left behind with their own personal grief. There was also a shared defiance to a distorted ideology and the ideologues who acted on it.

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The operative word in all of that was “shared.”

That indefinable feeling of common cause dissipated quickly. It was a matter of days before it was carved up by divergent political interests and translated into appeals for wars we are still fighting. And fights we are still waging with each other.

There is no denying that 9/11 shaped the way everyone who remembers it sees the world.

The attacks and the horror of the casualties brought home many of the conflicts that had been raging in other parts of the world. We lost a sense of security that seems even more illusory today. There are dangers that must be confronted and serious arguments worth having about how to do so.

Hoping we can resolve ourselves to a more unified, or at least less divisive, approach to solving our foreign and domestic policy problems may be overly optimistic. But the bright ideals of selfless heroism shown by Americans on our darkest day, and the unqualified solidarity on display in the days after, are still relevant and worth striving for.

When you remember the day the world changed, don’t forget that it revealed something good in all of us. If briefly.