Eleven years ago, on a bright, sunny New York morning, just as today it is in New York, and on the same day of the week, Tuesday, America was struck by Al Qaeda and forces backed by Osama Bin Laden, causing the deaths of about 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, along with those slaughtered at the Pentagon in suburban Virginia, and those on the plane bound for the US Capitol or the White House, and forced into a crash by its courageous passengers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
This is a day of commemoration and mourning for the loss of life, plus the deaths of over 6,000 Americans in unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since then, and the nearly 50,000 young men and women wounded, many of them severely, as a result of those wars.
We also mourn the loss of innocence that we had, that somehow, as the super power of the world, we were immune from such a shocking attack, and the sense of insecurity that it brought upon all of us.
Our lives have been transformed in so many ways that we can never reverse, and we can say that we have become ever more divided in the years since, politically, economically, and socially, and that we have a divided America more so now than ever since the Civil War and Reconstruction period in the middle to late 19th century.
We are a more stratified society economically, and we have become, more than ever, a nation of the coastlines versus the massive interior, a nation of blue versus red in political terms, and our country is rapidly changing in a way that worries us about the future, as to whether there is the potential for internal violence in the future, that might make the terrorism of September 11 seem like something minor, as compared to what could happen between the sections of the nation, the religious groups, the racial groups, the age groups, the gender groups, and the cultural groups that make America a complex nation in the 21st century.
Imagine going back to the year 2000, before the divisive Presidential Election of 2000, at a time when most Americans had never heard of Osama Bin Laden; when the World Trade Center dominated the Manhattan skyline; when there was no Facebook, Twitter, or Steve Jobs technology; when unemployment was only 3.9 percent; when the national debt was only $5.7 trillion; when gasoline was only $1.79 a gallon; and when the previous year, the biggest controversy was Bill Clinton’s sex life and his impeachment trial.
As America was entering the new century, we were extremely naive, worrying more about the effects of “Y2K” on computers, than the reality of what we were going to face in the first decade of the 21st century, which has worsened the outlook for America’s future in a dramatic way.
Oh, for the “good old days!”