This editorial first appeared on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We offer it again with minor changes to reflect this year’s anniversary.
Today marks the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Many will remember that in the wake of the attacks, which took the lives of nearly 3,000 people, our society and the world were enveloped in a veil of fear and anger. We were uncertain of our future and our safety. We were scared that our freedom and way of life were threatened.
It will remain one of those touchstone moments in time for those who lived through it, similar to recalling where you were when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and the Challenger exploded in 1986.
Similar to our reaction to those historical events, our nation made a choice to mourn our tragic losses, but keep strong and go on with our daily lives. Because if we didn’t do that, the terrorists would have indeed been successful.
While some of us may not feel any different 12 years after the attacks, society and life have been altered forever, bringing more human tragedy. Sept. 11 brought about wars on two fronts, Iraq and Afghanistan, with thousands more American lives lost as U.S. fighting continues today in the latter conflict. With these wars came the rise of powerful new threats with no borders or nationalities.
It led to a variety of legislative and organizational changes to our government, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and passage of the Patriot Act — used to inspect people’s lives, habits and communications for possible threats. The attacks cast a negative light on Muslim Americans, who were subjected to prejudice because those who committed the acts of terrorism were radicalized believers in the same faith. And because planes were used in the attacks, security has been tightened in airports and on aircraft.
As we remember those who died on that day, we should also recall those who have sacrificed in their memory: Emergency service workers, volunteers, military servicemen and women, the families of those who lost loved ones, those who have helped rebuild the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and many others.
This anniversary also gives us an opportunity to reflect on our own lives, and to wonder if we could do more to help our fellow man through tolerance and charity — to challenge such acts of hatred and to prevent them from again piercing our shores and threatening our values.