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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Have we changed in this past year?

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

"This date will indeed remain a part of our national mindset long into the future."

As I begin writing this column each day, the first order of business is to type in the date of the day's editorial comment. As I sit here and type in 9-11, the date alone sends an uneasy chill. And I imagine it will always bring that same feeling of sadness and tragic recollections.

A poll this week commemorating the 75th anniversary of television found that most Americans cited the 9-11 attacks as their most lasting memory of television news coverage. The assassination of President Kennedy was a distant second. And it will remain that way, I assume, until yet another national or international tragedy supplants 9-11 in our collective memory bank.

It's impossible to calculate the amount of words that will be written today to mark the first anniversary of that tragic day. The lives lost, the sorrow and pain and suffering that we all feel in our own way. This date will indeed remain a part of our national mindset long into the future.

For a year now, nothing has removed or replaced those memories. We'll forever see the image of those two airplanes as they changed our world and our lives. And yet for most of us, we still don't fully understand why we were targeted and why innocent lives were lost in some crazed quest for attention. We still have not captured the ringleader of this madness and that too is frustrating. And yes, a year removed from that fatal day, our lives may be no safer today than they were a year ago. We've taken massive steps to change that but we all know the worst may be yet to come. We pray otherwise. But we know better.

Are we a better nation, a stronger nation a year later? Do we have the national resolve and determination today that so strongly enveloped this nation a year ago? Have we taken any substantiative steps in this past year to rid the world of these terrorists who hide behind religious rhetoric?

Alas, my answer is both yes and no to each of these lingering questions. I fear today as I did a year ago that the national resolve to address these concerns is rapidly evaporating in partisan bickering and grandstanding. We stand poised this very week to address the issue of another tyrant on a distant shore and yet there is less than a consensus that we'll have the will to act. In the long run, that will surely be our downfall.

I believe we truly mourn for those lives lost. And I truly believe we want desperately to bring to justice those responsible for those dastardly acts. I unfortunately also believe that we lack the will to undertake what may be a generation of struggle to establish a more peaceful world. We have become a nation of instant gratification. If it cannot be accomplished rapidly, we seem to lack the determination to undertake the steps needed for resolution. For all of our sakes, I pray I am wrong.

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