... 20 Years...

… 20 years…

The cursor blinks. And blinks. What do I write next?

… 20 years…

You will have so much to read about this anniversary, what unique can I offer...

There is a flood of thoughts, of that bright fall day and of all that transpired afterwards, of lives lost, on that morning and in the ensuing years. Flashes in the mind of all of the world events spawned by that horrific attack, of battlefields distant and close to home. I grasp at them, try to order them, but they defy my attempts. There is a scar that I will forever feel. There are emotions so powerful that tears are never far behind when thoughts turn to 9/11.

… 20 years…

I will leave it to others to pick apart all the meaning of this anniversary, to draw lines of connectivity, from personal memorials at Ground Zero, to the pain of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the rise of xenophobia and Islamophobia, to the erosion of our Constitutional rights, to what we’ve witnessed on the political scene the last few years. How was our current age shaped by the events of that day? We know things would have been completely different, but how? We cannot ever answer the question, even though it haunts us. 

… 20 years…

I look back at some of my reflections for previous anniversaries. This was from 2018:

In these days, when a turbulent and uncertain history is being written in real time, September 11 can feel of another age, and indeed it is. It is a day that history will mark, but the sands of time tend to eat away at the immediacy of our memories as we become more preoccupied with the challenges of the present. We never forget, but we tend to remember less often as well.

A whole generation has been born and raised since that fateful moment 17 years ago. They are now confronting their own landscapes of challenge. This is how life works, and this is how time works. We need to teach our history, but not be imprisoned by it.

I have so many dates seared in my mind... December 7 (1941)... June 6 (1944)... November 22 (1963)... April 4 (1968)... August 9 (1974) - just to name a few. They were and are the real backdrop for my time, and those who were on life's journey with me. I want to tell my grandchildren about what they meant. But like me reading about July 4 (1776) or April 15 (1865), they will note them and maybe remember them, but not feel them as I do.

We are on this earth but a short time. Our lives are marked with memories, happy and sad, personal, communal, national, and global. Time strides on. The Earth spins. We pause, to think about the past... and the future.

… 20 years…

Have my views changed of that day with the hindsight of time? I wonder that often. The death then was so immediate, so harsh, so unsparing, so random, so tragic. But as I noted above, 9/11 has receded and now we are confronting a different type of mass death, at a scale that is unimaginable. Except we don’t have to imagine it. We are living it. 

Where will we be as a nation, as a planet, 20 years from now? I know it is unlikely I will be here to see it. And then 20 years hence, and 20 years after that? All of it is unknowable. But what the last 20 years has also taught us is that the choices we make matter, and no single outcome should be considered inevitable. 

… 20 years…

Yes, it is a long time, but also an instant in the history of our species. Our duty, when we have life, is to remember the past, learn from it, honor it, but use it to reimagine the future. Steady.

Subscribe to STEADY to support our work

I hope to continue to build a community here on Steady. If you aren’t already a subscriber, please consider signing up to a free or paid subscription. You can also leave a one-time tip to support our work. And if you are already part of our family, please consider sharing this post — and Steady — with others.

Give a gift subscription

Here at Steady we hope to build a sustainable model of journalism for our readers. If you would like to support our work, instead of or in addition to a paid subscription, leave a one-time tip at this link. Your contribution allows us to expand our efforts and continue to deliver quality content.

Support STEADY with a tip (suggested $5)

Leave a comment

Share