It’s a dramatically different world this year, in myriad ways that seem at once both obvious to all of us who have been muddling through them and too numerous to list. If there is any silver lining, perhaps it’s that large-scale foreign terrorism seems to have taken a pause, but only to be replaced by being terrorized by our fellow citizens in suspiciously coordinated violent and destructive rampages through our cities, while we simultaneously endure the combined threats of a viral pandemic, draconian lockdowns and ensuing economic hardships, and partly well-intentioned but nonetheless destructive abridgments of our freedom, autonomy, and ability to plan for the future.
I would not have remotely anticipated this new set of circumstances a year ago, nor I think could anyone. The world has given us an entirely new set of challenges to deal with, leaving prior battles that had seemed monumental and urgently important momentarily in the rearview mirror — on hiatus for now, I think, but not fundamentally solved nor gone. “2020” has come to eclipse “2001” in notoriety for the both sudden and sustained havoc it has wreaked, causing that former year of infamy to recede quietly into the past while our preoccupied minds have been mostly unaware it was happening.
It would be easy in this dramatically different time to forget what now seems like another era, disconnected from our present reality. But I will not, nor I think can we afford to. We have serious, unresolved issues related to the 9/11 attacks and the relative strength or weakness, unity or disunity of our resolve and response to them, that I expect will remain to be dealt with at some future date. Our cultural confidence and sense of self is being tested in different but not entirely unrelated ways for now, and the outcome of those present struggles is sure to have significant implications for our near-term future. While I remain resolved that we have worthwhile and important work to do rebuilding our cultural foundations in the here and now, my focus has of necessity also been on the larger long-term question of where we — as a frontier culture in need of new frontiers — will go from here. I have much more work to do on that, that’s been especially hard to make time for lately, but I have hope that determination and persistence will unite to make the necessary possible in the long run.
On this day, let us remember and honor the loved ones and fellow citizens we lost on that eerily clear September morning, as well as the “sheepdogs” and everyday heroes among us who ran toward danger and risked everything when called — on that day and in the days, weeks, months, and years that followed. Let us think on the resolve that is needed to maintain this Civilization of ours — this engine of well-being and sanctuary for people of good will — against persistent, determined forces that demand its submission, surrender, and subservience. May these hard times produce the resilient men and women we need, and may their efforts avert the self-inflicted decline that is, in the final sum, a greater danger than that any foreign enemy can hope to pose us. It’s going to take steady exertion and long-term dedication to the task, but I do believe a happy, resilient future waits to be claimed beyond this moment of gloom.
My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts
2019: 9/11, Eighteen Years On
2018: 9/11, Seventeen Years On
2017: 9/11, Sixteen Years On
2016: 9/11, Fifteen Years On
2015: 9/11, Fourteen Years On ~ Fourteen Years Later: 9/11 Links
2014: 9/11, Thirteen Years On
2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On
2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On
2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links
2010: 9/11: Two Songs
2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes
2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America
2007: 9/11, Six Years On
2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2
2005: I Remember
2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)