9/11's impact isn't limited to today's anniversary

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9/11 is an event I now see from afar.
  • Flickr: 9/11 photo
  • 9/11 is an event I now see from afar.
This marks the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that it wasn't the first thing I thought of when I woke up. I was focused on getting breakfast on the table. Emptying the dishwasher. Making sure my wife didn't forget her coffee. I thought first of the daily tasks that add up to a morning.

Only when I sat down at this keyboard did the ripples of 9/11 hit me again. I stopped moving, and the events of that day caught up. They came with the faint taste of bile and the realization that, on its 11th anniversary, 9/11 is both squarely in the past and something I'm still processing.

It's still easy to flash back to the horrific moments of that morning, to feel that uncomfortable tingle on my neck as I think about huddling around a small television in a cubicle at a Boston publishing company. Confusion giving way to tears. Closing the distance from people I'd purposefully kept as work acquaintances.

I was fortunate. I didn't lose anyone on 9/11. As a result, its impact has faded some for me over the past decade. And I've let that happen. I've made the choice to revisit those hours with less frequency because I'm not sure there's anything constructive for me to take away from those visits. But I've kept those doors to memory because 9/11 is a cultural touchstone. For better or worse, it's now part of what it means to be an American.

So today isn't just any other day. But I didn't attend the dedication of the 9/11 memorial this morning, and I'm probably not going to visit the site today. It's a trip I don't want to limit to this one morning, this one day. Remembering 9/11 is an everyday thought, not an anniversary-day event.

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