Fifteen Years After 9/11 and America Continues to Adapt to the Violence

9-11-01-1-liberty-towersIt’s amazing how quickly the unsettling feeling returns to my gut as I watch historical coverage of the 9/11 attacks. Most of my emotion from that day still resides inside because there is no box that can neatly contain such a tragedy.

Whether living in Washington, DC or New York – we all grieved simultaneously. We could empathize with one another, but that tended to only deal with the surface pain. It would allow those living in the impacted cities to move along to the next memorial service or remembrance.

The nasty part is what welled up after the nation moved on; after folks returned to their normal commuter worries and workplace stresses. It’s when you are alone at night in the dark with only silence as a companion. What if you never got to say goodbye to a spouse or child? Maybe the last words spoken between a family and a lost loved one were heated as he or she was running late to make it to work on time. That regret is consuming.

I hear folks discussing how 15 years has passed since 9/11, and they are ready to move on. I don’t think any disrespect is meant. The statement itself is a means of grieving and an attempt to grasp the immensity of what occurred. The idea being if it could be put away in a lockbox maybe it would go away.

Not so much with the sense of loss, anger and a realization that a dark presence is out there, waiting and planning to hurt America. On September 11, 2001,it was successful.

9-11-01-logo12Life is more complicated in the post-9/11 world. Nothing seems to have a simple explanation or solution, and political polarization envelopes the smallest of issues. While I comprehend the idea of being nostalgic for days gone by, I find trying to negate or move past 9/11 does a disservice to the thousands of everyday people and first responders that were killed on this day 15 years ago. On this anniversary that loss of life is compounded exponentially by the thousands of soldiers killed and injured as a result of carrying out America’s foreign policy and brining to justice those responsible.

Lets be real, the entire tone of America has changed as a result of 9/11. There is no circumventing this failure of our government, law enforcement and corporation-trained safety protocols. Evidence and questionable behavior was on display from the perpetrators, but the concept of utilizing commercial aircraft as a weapon against the country was inexplicable prior its occurrence.

Flash forward 15 years and security is a conscious part of our everyday life. Terror threat levels in larger cities, boarding aircraft, metal detectors to enter ballgames, cameras and key card access doors at offices are all normal these days.

America’s foreign policy and defense focus is predominantly on the Middle East, and the rising terrorist threat of ISIS. This has shifted Muslim-Americans from being a courted political block by the Republican Party, to exiled, where Democrats have given them political shelter in return for their vote. This institutional churn on immigration, naturalization and terrorism has CNN and MSNBC perpetually announcing “Breaking News.”

I appreciate MSNBC replaying the Today show coverage from the morning of 9/11. It’s tough to watch, but a great way to feel connected. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost loved ones in this incident or had family members injured or killed in the aftermath.

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