One year later, America changed forever
September 11, 2002
The temptation is to believe America has returned to normal, that we are living our lives undeterred by the menace of terrorism. We want to believe Americans are too strong and resilient, brave and resourceful to be cowed by vague and unseen threats.
For the most part, we would be right. Since the horrors that unfolded a year ago today, Americans have become stronger in their will, possessing a depth of patriotism and nationalism not known since the last world war.
We have read the stories of bravery and heroism on Sept. 11, and while we can wonder how each one of us would have reacted had we been in one of the World Trade Center towers or a passenger on Flight 93, there is no denying the proof that ordinary people will rise to extraordinary acts when the need arises.
As a nation, our resiliency and resourcefulness continue to be put to the test every day. And if the true measure is how a people will respond in a crisis, then Americans have passed with their colors flying.
But we have changed. America will never be the same.
Individually, we live with less freedom. As passengers at an airport, we submit to searches and security precautions against which we would have bristled on Sept. 10, 2001. We look at strangers with more suspicion than curiosity. We have accepted a greater role for government in our lives, and at the same time a less open government — all in the name of national security.
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As a nation, we have invaded and overthrown a foreign country, Afghanistan, for harboring criminals. We are debating now whether to invade another country, Iraq, over its potential for terrorism.
We are sadder. We are apprehensive. We are less naive about world affairs and, at the same time, prouder than ever to be Americans.
The wound ripped open by terrorists on Sept. 11 will heal with time. The scar will be with us forever.
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