A special note from our Editor-in-Chief, Cameron Cowan
Today we mourn the events of 9-11. This event has cast a long shadow over the 21st century, a time that started with a lot of promise and hope. I first had to write and editorial about 9-11 when I was at Liberty Ink Journal in 2009. At that time the event was only a few years old. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were still very fresh and the problems that we now talk about were just beginning to come to light. They weren’t the Longest Wars yet and despite the anti-war protests that were common in 2004 and 2005, victory still seemed like a possibility. 10 years later, I’m writing another editorial for a different publication and those wars are still with us. there have been 3 different presidents to manage those wars. Lower Manhattan has been rebuilt One World Trade Center stands tall at 1,776 feet in the Port Authority. This year, 9-11 was back in the news as Congress debated whether the federal government should continue to fund the rising healthcare costs of first responders and others who rushed into the burning towers as everyone else was running out. Jon Stewart, the long time host of The Daily Show, used his star power to plead with Congress and after some public outcry Congress has now funded the victims fund through the end of the century.
9-11 changed America forever. So have the many theories and conspiracy theories around the event. The internet joke “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” still gets bantered about, sometimes by users who weren’t born yet or were babies when the event happened. 9-11 is one of those events that sticks out in the history books. For those of us alive it becomes a day where we talk about the time before it and after it. When we talk about a variety of topics the phrase “pre-9-11” is often used. 9-11 is one of those events. Like Pearl Harbor, Watergate, the Vietnam war, or the sinking of the Titanic, life is different after it occurs.
America is working to bring an end to its longest wars. We as a society have learned to accept veterans in a way that we have never done before. And often we have failed the broken men and women who survived these wars. These wars have gone on for so long that Fathers and Sons have fought in the same places and slept in the same barracks. America is not good at long wars or long engagements. We are not nation-builders. I hope that this lesson will extend into the future. History tempers that hope. The American century is over. 9-11 saw to that end. Attacks on American shores are rare. That is why 9-11 stands out. Attacks on the mainland of the US are rare. When it happens, it stands out.
This year, as we approach the 20 year anniversary, it’s helpful to take a few moments to think back to that day. Think about what has transpired since then and how much the world has changed. For those that didn’t live it, I can’t explain to you what it was like. I can’t explain what the world was before the TSA or bulletproof doors on airliners. It’s hard to think of a time that we weren’t taking our shoes off at the airport. It’s hard to think of a time that we weren’t worried about liquids and aerosols. It’s hard to think back to a time when anyone could walk through an airport and airports were a public commons.
This year, the past, the pre-9-11 world will be on my mind. I try to hang onto that vision of the world. I try to remember what it was like before security and safety became paramount above all concerns. I think it is important to maintain that vision. Thank you for reading.