Americans are gathering today for memorial services near Ground Zero in New York, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in the Pennsylvania field where United flight 93 hit the ground on Sept. 11, 2001. The names of the victims will be read at the site where the World Trade Center Twin Towers once stood, in a ceremony that has been repeated every year.
The “now-ritualistic” observances “have become sadly familiar,” said the New York Post in an editorial. “The nation at large has recovered and moved on.” Construction has started at Ground Zero. We haven’t been attacked in six years, but that only underscores the need to remain vigilant and press on with the war on terror. “Moving forward does not mean forgetting what happened on that tragic day.”
It’s hard to believe America’s transformation since 9/11, said Norman Podhoretz in The Wall Street Journal. The nation was swept in a wave of patriotic fervor in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Many young people—raised under the cloud of Vietnam—had never experienced such a thing, and assumed the feeling would last forever. Yet here we are, consumed by “vitriolic debates” about Iraq and the war on terror. “The Vietnam syndrome is back.”
The real lesson of these years has been that “Sept. 11 is a totemic date for the Bush administration,” said Gary Kamiya in Salon.com. “It justifies everything”—the war in Iraq, the threat of war against Iran. Sept. 11 “explains everything, ends all argument. It is the crime that must be eternally punished, the wound that can never heal, the moral high ground that can never be taken.” Even as public opinion turns increasingly against the war in Iraq, it has yet to question the “‘war on terror’ itself, or the assumptions on which it is based.”
It’s easy to fall into complacency, and assume that the worst is behind us, said Judith Miller in the London Telegraph. After all, al Qaida hasn’t struck on American soil since that devastating day. But “Osama bin Laden marked the September 11 anniversary” by releasing his first propaganda video in three years. “His continued freedom” marked a “triumph of sorts” for the terrorist mastermind. “It also shows how challenging a task defeating such an enemy has become.”