I was really dreading the run-up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I was thinking that the emotions were still too raw, too unresolved... even after ten years. Mostly, I was thinking that I didn't want to think about 9/11 as something that happened in the past. Because it's not really in the past. It's like looking back on Pearl Harbor while World War II is still going on.
That said, I thought it would be valuable to ask, "what have I learned?".
- I learned who Al Qaeda was (and is)... and that there are still people in this world that can twist a religious belief into justification for imposing their will on others.
- I learned to hug my kids and my wife, every day.
- I learned to fear planes in the air, at least for a while.
- I wondered if Flight 93 would someday represent the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.
- I added "how to respond to a terrorist attempt to take over the plane" to my mental pre-flight checklist while checking for the nearest exit.
- I got over my shyness about reporting suspicious packages in public places.
- I witnessed grass-roots patriotism as people bought or created US flags to tape to their car windows.
- I learned to cut people some slack as discussion and reaction flowed on the message boards and websites immediately after 9/11.
- I decided that I would not be intimidated.
- I embraced my Muslim friends.
- I dug into the history and politics of Central Asia.
- I tried to understand the daily life of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
- I said "thank you" to a New York cop.
There's no finishing thought, no dramatic conclusion where all the loose ends are tied up and we go to commercial. And that's as it should be. Because this story has not been fully told.