September has forever changed.

My two youngest kids, “Irish twins” born 11 months apart, graduate from high school next June, and neither has any memory of Sept. 11, 2001.

They know the event, that Islamic jihadists hijacked passenger planes, flew one into the Pentagon, crashed another in Pennsylvania, and slammed two more into the Twin Towers in New York – mighty edifices they’ve only seen in pictures. They also know a lot of people died, as I tell them, “for committing the crime of being Americans.”

What they don’t know is how things have changed drastically for those of us who remember that day, and who remember the world the day before. I try to explain it. But try explaining algebra to a giraffe. Same thing.

Everything changed. Like air travel. Before, easy. Now, awful. To this day we assume every commercial flight is a target. Remove your shoes and belt. Open your laptop, please. What’s this unmarked liquid in your carry-on?

It’s not just flying. Daily there is perpetual suspicion that explosions will come. Pre-9/11, a backpack left unattended in a crowded place, say, a bus or train terminal, or a ball game, would be picked up, opened and searched so it could be returned to its owner.

Today, the place would be cleared, police called, and they might bring a remote control robot to inspect the bag for explosives. I saw this happen in 2004 while waiting to get into the Capitol Rotunda to pay respects to President Reagan, who lay in state. Turned out the backpack had nothing in it. Some around me talked of a “false flag” operation. Since 9/11, paranoia is a feature of American life, not a tin-foil quirk.

We live in a surveillance state, now. We are captured on cameras perhaps 50 times as we go about our day, driving, gassing up the family crate, at the ATM, waiting in line at Wawa.

Our most intimate thoughts and correspondence, if composed in emails, texts or social media messaging, are stored forever by faceless third parties, to be read by strangers if they choose.

We accept this because the shock of 9/11 went to the marrow.

Four days after the attacks, a raw, rainy Saturday in the mid-Atlantic, the networks’ 24/7 coverage showed rescuers still searching piles of smoking rubble in Manhattan. That day I went to a supermarket in Langhorne.

The only sounds inside were cash registers and children too young to understand why …read more

Source:: Daily Times


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Mullane: The world since 9/11

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