I'm not really sure what 9/11 means nine years later. Are you?
Today, we claim, through a mixture of increased surveillance, government overstatement, civilian action, and sheer luck that we have not had an attack on our soil since. Not had a successful attack, anyway. While I don't think we are quaking in fear as we anticipate the next one. And if and when we do have another one, the vultures from either side of the aisle (depending on who is in power at the time) are waiting to descend with their charges of the government's inability to keep us safe.
Today, the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission remain largely ignored. Most prominently, government agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. do not work with any more sense of collaboration or information-sharing than they ever did. If anything, it's worse.
Today, Afghanistan is a place of no resolution. Our incursion there was supposed to neutralize the enemies who flew planes into our buildings, to crush their terror network. And all but one of the accused terrorists who allegedly committed the attacks, plus bin Laden himself, came from Saudi Arabia, which remains our ally, if not our friend.
Today, those workers and civil servants who responded to the physical tragedy and its aftermath in New York City are in the fight of their lives (literally) to get acknowledgement and support for the illnesses caused by the dust of 9/11. While we might think without thinking that our government and our country would embrace and respond to their sitation positively, that has not been the case.
Today, our president's announcement that we have finished all ground operations in Iraq is met with indifference. Many people shrug their shoulders and mutter, "We never should have been there in the first place." As if that was just so obvious to everyone and not the hard-fought reality that is responsible for much of the political divisiveness in America right now. The hatred for protesters, the lies about weapons of mass destruction, the charges of unpatriotic behavior aimed toward anyone who opposed the invasion of Iraq or challenged its priorities all seem forgotten.
Today, we feel relief that a church in Florida has decided not to use the fires of burning Korans to stoke the larger flames of religious hatred all over the world. But that is a mixed relief. The sentiments that prompted the initial idea, whether they came from God or not, are still there, if not in that church, then elsewhere. At the same time, the protests against the burning of that book come from countries, some of whom do not allow the Bible to enter their borders. Here, while perhaps a bad idea, burning the Koran is an expression of freedom of speech. There, possession of a Bible is a crime.
So, I really don't know what to think 9 years down the road. I'd like this day to mean something. Unfortunately, because we're enough years away from it now, the scars of 9 years ago aren't so noticeable on the surface. That does not mean that they are not there. For most of us, though, we'll probably be reminded of the events of 9/11 because of some tribute that is paid to them at the start of a football game.