A helicopter just went by the cloudy DC airspace, and I didn't fear it. I didn't wonder what nefarious mission it might be accomplishing. I didn't wonder about the emptiness in the sky or about the sirens of the fire truck that went by a little earlier.
But this morning, taking a walk, I saw the flags at half-mast and I noticed the din was less dinny. The city is a little less vibrant, having chosen to pull out the grays for this seventh anniversary.
In the vein of the seven-year itch –or the belief that a monogamous relationship can become stagnant and foster straying after seven years– and of that oft-cited urban legend about every cell in your body being replaced after seven years (which makes some sense until you realize that neurons aren't really replaced), perhaps we as a country are going through some sort of seven-year itch.
A seven-year itch in which we seem to be forgetting the raw pain and the horror and the feelings of true unity. In which we're forgetting that everyday people were heroes and victims and fearless leaders.
In which we forget the fact that war is not an alien intangibility, but a daily reality: one that is fought every day by those of us who are part of the armed forces, and by emergency personnel of all kinds.
The war is now within, as we become complacent and jaded and think we're safe once again.
Very good words. Very well said.
I have been concerned about our growing national sense of complacency since the initial fear and watchfulness of 9/11 faded. Every year on this day, I go back and watch footage from the nightmare. I want to remember what happened, and not let myself be swayed by a mistaken feeling that all is well.
There is a palpable silence at work today. My office lost employees – and the DC teachers & schoolchildren they were escorting to an event in California – when American 77 flew into the Pentagon. I did not know these people, but the continuing sense of loss that lingers here on this day floods the hallways.
This is where the protectors face the double-edged sword of secrecy: They are obviously successful about preventing other attacks, but the very measures that they take require that secrecy to make sure that they continue to work to protect our safety.
Only in the far future or to the select few who get fully briefed will ever know the real scope of the threat and the overall success (since the worst part is that it only takes one attack getting through to make everyone question the methods used to protect, no matter how effective).
I hope it isn’t true. I hope that because we do not fear every sound, every holiday and every siren doesn’t mean that we have forgotten that evil does exist. Maybe it does, but I hope not.
This might sound callous but it is not meant to be. Every wound heals with enough time. The more personal the wound, the longer it takes to heal. For many Americans the attacks were not as deeply personal as it was for those who lost loved ones. So seven years is long enough for the wounds to heal and for people to want to get on with their lives. Canadians also feel the same way. Those who lost loved ones, American, Canadian, and any other nationalities, and those who are very empathic still feel the effects of 9/11. It will eventually end up the same as Memorial Day with those who lived through the events trying to convince those who didn’t of just how horrific the day was. Most people will accept the security measures as part of their life and move on. The new generations growing up will accept the security measures as normal. People cannot live fearing everything. They eventually accept that things are as they are and continue with their daily lives. They haven’t forgotten that evil lives but they don’t stay active in fighting it. We really are a passive race about some things.