It’s not what it once was.
Nothing ever is.
I think back to the tragedy that caught the Nation’s attention 17 years ago, and the way everything stood still, collectively suspended, in awe. Together, in awe.
Maybe the last time we stood collectively about anything.
Neighbors that hadn’t spoken in years, sharing tears.
Family who’d procrastinated making phone calls, chatted all night.
Walmart probably didn’t close.
Schools stopped teaching (or testing).
Children didn’t stop learning, though.
I was a child in 2001—a 5th grader.
I learned a great many things that day. There’s a lot I still have not learned.
Are we wiser than our former selves?
Who was the enemy?
That fear, for months following, made every other small issue disappear.
How could anyone do this to innocent people?
We are innocent people, but we are not AN innocent people.
What will it take to unite us again?
Many of our enemies are faceless, big and small. A great many heroes emerged that day and for years after, many of whom are also faceless.
To the faceless, uncommon humans, the hero sort,
Thank you for your courage. Thank you for freedom.
To anybody living courageously in the name of something truly just, at any time, thank you.