Has the impact of Sept. 11 faded?

The anniversary of the deadly attacks of 9/11 marks 20 years since that fateful day.

That simple thought arrived out of the blue as I sat in the newsroom the other day and I was surprised, and a bit shocked, at how mundane the date appeared in my mind.

Here we are 20 years later and it seems as if that date, and its horrific overtone, is but a part of the modern American fabric.

Yet, let’s face it, the deadly terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, carry a more significant impact — or at least it should — than other key dates in our history.

There is now the cliched saying that 9/11 changed everything. But I don’t think it is a cliche, because it is true. The attacks did change everything. There is, at least for me anyway, a firm demarcation line between America before 9/11 and America after.

I fear this horrible day, though properly remembered by most, has lost some of its impact, a piece of its true implication.

The passage of time, I realize, has a lot to do with it. Time does heal many wounds. Yet, the horror of this day was so profound that I would have been equally surprised 10 years ago if I thought the anniversary would, or could, sneak up on me.

But it almost did.

And that prompted me to wonder about a few things.

For one, I wondered why such a terrible day could fade into the background of the American consciousness. The Global War on Terror has something to do with it, I think.

I also wondered what is the best way, two decades later, to view that day of tragedy. Surely the shock is gone. And yet, I think we owe it, not only to those who lost their lives on that day and those who died during the ensuing War on Terror, to give the day more than a passing thought.

These attacks did change our lives. Every one of us. It changed the nation, too, in ways both good and bad. Some of those less palatable shifts still impact us and deserve a better public review than they have so far received.

No, I think the best thing we can do is remember the day. Intentionally remember what happened — no matter how unpleasant it is — and pledge not to let such a significant day sneak up on our memory.

Time does, indeed, often get away from us. Still, an event like 9/11 should be, and must be, remembered by the entire nation.

As hard as it is to look directly at the destruction of the Twin Towers even now, it is important to sit awhile with the mayhem and terror, and vow to never let something so tragic occur again.

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Andrew Cutler is the interim editor of The Observer and the regional editorial director for the EO Media Group, overseeing The Observer, East Oregonian and four more newspapers in Eastern Oregon.

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