An anniversary can be sweet or solemn, but either way, it is only the echo, not the cry. I have found America to be a country united, and less; more fearful and more secure, more serious and more devoted to American Idol. It is like looking at your childhood baby pictures. You know exactly who it is: every feature is both different and the same, despite new expressions, and furrows and knowledge.
To say that America, and Australia just the same, have changed feels like a reward to the enemy, but to deny it risks losing the knowledge for which we paid a terrible price—knowledge about who we become under pressure, in public and private. People talked about living on a higher plane, with an intensity of fear and faith and gratitude, when it was easy to salute and hard to sleep and nothing was bland or phony. But it is impossible to live in this place forever; it is like the day you graduated high school, a first kiss or when a family member dies- days of power and insight that grab you for a moment and, when they let you go, leave marks on your skin
But what marks can we see now? I read a quote by George Bush who said great good may come from the evil that struck, but you need a long lens to bring that hope into focus. We resist the idea that we have changed because so much of the change of the past years feels like damage. Lives have been lost or broken. We talk about the need to balance freedom and security, but both have shriveled in the heat of the threat.
On September 10th there were 19 people planted in a country, poised to kill as many a possible, people who thought they were safe. From the next day forward, the world thought otherwise. Sales in gas-marks, blankets, batteries and bottled water rose. People began to take notice of the colour of another's skin more closely. So as we all try to move as though nothing has fundamentally been lost, America still drives down the street in their petrol-guzzling cars but now doesn't think twice if there is a security check point. There are arguments over victim payouts. Debates over memorial monuments. Look around any city when a plane flies low, and you can see people pivot to the landmarks. The Empire State, the Golden Gate—is it still there?
Because Sept. 11 is still one of a kind, people can make it what they want. Some says it has made us more aware of the need to be both humble and generous at home and abroad. Others are glad we now honor our soldiers and suspect our allies and can finally agree that some values are not just a matter of opinion. Whatever other wars that Australia follows America into, there will never be another war like this, this is one that we have fought alone. Privately. Defending our daily habits and confidence and freedom against enemies who would destroy them and using as a weapon the skills we have built by doing so. We know more now. Now, If only we can remember that we do.
This post is dedicated to the 2993 people who lost their lives 8years ago today.