Today is a day of remembrance and reflection for America. It is difficult to believe that the attack that refocused our view of vulnerability was eight years ago now. Eight long years ago – or should the statement be only eight years ago? Either way a discussion must be had.
The anniversary of 9/11 came up yesterday in one of my class discussions that was focused on what types of things facilitate change. 9/11 facilitated change in the way some folks in the United States viewed their safety and security. It also allowed a window of opportunity for implementation of new policies, structures and agendas.
Eight long years ago the idea of retribution was strong. We were willing to pay a price for our sense of safety and security. We accepted changes in security protocols and even supported the idea that our armed forces would engage in armed conflict to address the evil at hand. Collectively we believed in the strength of the American people and the commitment of our ideals.
Only eight years ago we were attacked on our own soil and we were stunned as a nation. We have not forgotten, but we have gotten back to the business of everyday life. We have normalized airport security and losses from combat. We are not complacent, but we have moved on.
So what do we owe the victims of 9/11; the victims’ families; the first responders and other crews who attempted rescue, worked at clean up and lost colleagues; the servicemen and women who fought the battle on foreign soil and who continue to deal with the aftereffects when they return home; the families of fallen soldiers; and the next generation of Americans? What do we owe besides platitudes that we will never forget? What do we owe to those who have carried a disproportionate burden? What do we owe to the memories of those who stepped up in the face of the event and in armed conflict since?
It has to be more than words or memorials. It has to be more than respect and reverence. It has to be more than a section in a history book.
We owe a learning curve that is not dissipated over time. We owe change that is incorporated into our collective American identity. We owe a commitment that history will not be allowed to repeat itself (as it is so often known to do). We, America – we owe more than never forgetting.
On the eighth anniversary of 9/11 we owe those who have given so much a response to the question, “What have we learned and how have we changed so that a repeat of this will be avoided?”
Eight long years…only eight years – either way it has been a long enough period that we should be able to pay what we owe; so, what have we learned and how have we changed so that a repeat of this will be avoided? We need to deliver that answer America because we owe it to those who have paid disproportionately, to ourselves and to future generations.
Day sixty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da