It’s the morning of Sept. 11 …
There’s a phrase that still chills our souls, for it sends us back to a moment. A terrible moment.
The anniversary of 9/11 — the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that claimed nearly 3,000 lives from more than 90 different countries — is still a defining, shattering episode for this nation. Like Pearl Harbor before it, Sept. 11, 2001, looms as a momentous, genocidal milestone that will haunt the imagination forever.
Many of us still recall what we were doing when we first heard the news or saw the terrifying images of the World Trade Center towers burning and then collapsing to the earth. Most of us don’t really WANT to remember it, but it remains an inescapable mental scar. And you probably still recall the aching feeling — the profound emptiness and fear — of that day.
As the years have passed, the pain has morphed into a numb acceptance of a new age — filled with precautions, suspicions and war — that was born on that morning.
But on this anniversary, there are at least some fresh things to consider.
For instance, a child who was born on 9/11 turns 18 years old today — old enough to vote. That child may be starting college this fall or may be in high school, or that child may be entering the military preparing to defend this nation from the thing that struck at us literally a lifetime ago. He or she is now a young adult who only knows the world as it was defined on that morning in 2001.
There’s also the news that President Trump, on the eve of this anniversary, invited members of the Taliban, who backed the al-Qaida group that carried out 9/11, to Camp David for secret peace talks with Afghanistan officials. Trump said he then pulled the plug on the summit after a Taliban car bombing last week left an American soldier dead. Nevertheless, the image of a U.S. president meeting with the Taliban on American soil is startling, to put it mildly. But perhaps this perspective truly belongs in the eye of the beholder. Whether it’s seen as a bold bid for peace or tantamount to a kind of sacrilege can only be judged in our own hearts. In a way, it really is THAT personal.
One thing that’s not new: Eighteen years later, we’re still at war in Afghanistan. The 9/11 attacks were the first strike in what has literally become a generational conflict, for we now have a generation of young adults who know nothing of what we once knew as peace.
On this day, we still wonder — as we did back in 2001 — where all this will lead us. Are we fated to be locked into permanent war? Are we risking disaster if we exit Afghanistan? Can we ever again feel as safe as we felt prior to 9/11? Or, arguably, should we? Will we ever again have that luxury — or be that reckless? Again, it’s in the eye of the beholder.
The 9/11 attacks left us with myriad legacies, some of which are still being written as you read this.
It’s the morning of Sept. 11 — many, many years on — and we still don’t know how this story that began on that day 18 years ago will ever really end.