Our Voice: 9/11 anniversary reminds us how much life has changed

September 11, 2013 

Today is Sept. 11. It's been 12 years since the country awoke to terrorist attacks on our soil.

Because it was morning on the East Coast, many on the West Coast were still in the their beds. But even for those who were up and going, it was a wake-up call.

For a long time, we had become accustomed to feeling safe at home. For the most part, terrorist activities were something that happened in other parts of the world.

For 12 years, we as a country have been rethinking that false sense of security.

Especially in past months with the news of the National Security Agency monitoring our private emails and phone calls, the trade off seems to be privacy for security.

Is that the only option?

Is it a trade we are willing to make?

In the months and years after 9/11, there was an outcry against the government for failing to prevent the attacks. How did they not know the hijackers were learning to fly big planes without learning to land? How did the government not put a stop to al-Qaida's plotting?

We blamed the government for not knowing enough about potential terrorist activities.

Then the country beefed up its surveillance of terrorists, would-be terrorists and little old grandmas.

That incensed us -- for a while.

First we object, eventually we accept.

Now, for example, we think nothing of checking in at the airport in our stocking feet while putting our toiletries on public display in little plastic bags.

Although we still are outraged that someone might be looking at our emails or logging where we call, eventually our objections to that will pass as well. We will come to expect intrusions into our private lives as our new normal.

We already seem to have gotten over having a security camera on nearly every street corner.

Before the next anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a few things will change. For example, the museum at Ground Zero will open. It will be a place where we can mourn those 3,000 people who died that day and remember the children who lost a parent in the attack.

It's not necessary to travel to New York to commemorate the lives lost. The Fraternal Order of Police Honor Guard will be on duty all day today at the 9/11 memorial in Kennewick.

The guard will change every 30 minutes, starting at 6:30 a.m., at the memorial off Highway 395 at the Southridge Sports Complex, 2901 Southridge Blvd.

At 6:45 p.m., a ceremony will feature comments from Kennewick City Manager Marie Mosley and keynote speaker retired Navy Capt. John A. Butterfield.

Kennewick was one of a few communities in the U.S. to receive a piece of steel from the World Trade Center that was destroyed by terrorists in 2001.

The ceremony and guard will honor the firefighters and law enforcement officers who died while rescuing citizens at the burning World Trade Center.

We're still adapting to the threat of modern terrorism. We'll never be completely safe as long as there are fanatics willing to sacrifice their lives to harm Americans.

The government must be held accountable for reducing that threat in ways that also preserve our fundamental rights to live free of government interference.

It's a tall order but it's the only way to ensure the American way of life outlasts those who seek to destroy it.

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