Recalling when the towers fell

Seven years ago today, most Americans witnessed via television the horrific scene of terrorists flying airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. And many realized, perhaps for the first time, that the United States isn’t immune from the sort of nihilistic terrorist violence that much of the world had already endured.

We learned that the blood of innocents could be spilled here — just as it could in Tel Aviv, Munich or Madrid — by fanatic ideologues who care nothing about human life.

In addition to the Twin Towers, we saw more death and destruction at the Pentagon that day. And we learned of the self-sacrificing heroism of those aboard United Flight 93.

Americans briefly came together following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, first in grief and then in determination to take the fight to those who attacked us — al-Qaida and their hosts in Afghanistan, the Taliban.

But that unity evaporated in disputes over what powers the government should have to continue to fight the terrorists, how the war on terrorism should be pursued here and abroad, and especially over whether a war in Iraq aided or diminished that anti-terrorist effort.

Still, in the ensuing seven years, despite the oft-repeated intentions of al-Qaida leaders to repeat their murderous attacks on the United States, they have not successfully done so. Whatever its other faults, the Bush administration deserves credit for that.

We have seen the economy rebound from the slump that began well before 9/11, but was exacerbated by the events of that day. And we have experienced another economic downturn this year.

We have been through one presidential election since that terrible day seven years ago. And we are on the verge of another, in which experience in foreign affairs has become an issue, but very little is said about the terrorists who still aim to harm us.

Seven years on, most Americans are far more concerned with immediate economic, political and personal issues than with what happened in 2001. But we must never forget what happened that day, or those who lost their lives because of the terrorists. And we should never believe that because those events are gradually slipping into the far reaches of our memories, the terrorists have abandoned their plans to attack us again.


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