September 11, 2011

10 Years Later

Woke up to a brand new skyline
We licked our wounds and mourned the dead
Swallowed the story, hook and sinker
Is this what we meant, when we said
That we never would forget?
Those are the opening lines to "Broken Lungs" by Thrice, a mournful song reflecting on the damage inflicted on September 11, 2001 and our collective reaction. I've been thinking a lot lately about that day, but more about the days since.

I don't want to politicize tragedy, but as we commemorate the tenth anniversary of that terrible event we must consider why it happened and what we have done in response. On 9/11 we learned that America was not invulnerable. That we had enemies who could and would do us harm. That the reality of mass violence was not limited to third-world countries that we read about in the news. It happened here, and it happened to us. And we swore we'd never forget.

Now, a decade later, I have to wonder if we have forgotten. Not the attack itself, of course. We still recall where we were when we heard the news. The images of the collapsing towers and billowing smoke are forever etched in our memories. We remember the chaos. The shock. The terror. But have we forgotten what it meant?

Did we ever really know?

We were told that they hated us for our freedom. Are we more free?

We were told that we must must make the world safe for democracy. Are we safer?

That day shattered our innocence, but are we still naive? That day opened our eyes, but do we really see? A decade later, are we wiser than we were on September 10, 2001? Have we asked ourselves the hard questions about why this happened and what we can do- must do- to make things right?

Or are we fools and cowards all?

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