As the world knows, eleven years ago today, several people with hearts full of hate truly introduced America to the type of terrorism that much of the world knows on a day-to-day basis, writ on an unimaginably large scale. Thousands died that day, and hundreds of thousands more in the aftermath.
Each year on the eleventh of September, the internet is buried under semi-opaque pictures of American flags waving defiantly over twin towers which no longer exist. "Never Forget" is often emblazoned on these photos, a statement of nationalism, of a wound that won't heal, of pride and love and fear and hate, of ten years of war and untold wars to come.
And I worry.
I worry that we don't realize that we have not yet won this "war on terror," and in fact we are still on the losing side. I worry that we don't realize how deeply we have allowed our attackers to take from us, and what we have given up to prevent them from taking more.
I worry that this blind patriotism - this instinctual, collective coming together, rallying behind the flag and the fires of vengeance that still burn in our hearts and in our military - blind us to the thoughtful reflection and painful decisions we must undertake to determine who we want to be as a nation. I worry that so long as we have aggression and war as the forefront of our national identity, we serve only to strengthen the resolve of those who would do us harm.
So, I ask you, what does "Never Forget" mean to you? How do you envision our new nation?
I'll never forget a world where I could get on an airplane without a stranger in another room seeing me naked while the stranger in front of me inspects the shoes I have removed. I'll never forget a world where we didn't look at people with skin somewhere between black and white as inherently threatening in public. I’ll never forget a world where I didn’t need a passport to go to Canada, or where there was not a “Department of Homeland Security.”
And I'll mourn the fact that my daughter will never remember the same.
Aside from the lives of those who were killed on that sunny September Tuesday, this is the true loss of 9/11. We are now raising a generation who thinks its "normal" to be analyzed by strangers, to be reviewed as a threat, to not have to worry about your internet searches or library history living in the bottom of a government computer in the event they combine to identify them as a terrorist. That this, to them, *is* freedom.
What then, will you remember?