As the nation marks the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks today, one thing stands out: For the majority of Americans, life remains blissfully and blessedly normal.
Of course, it's not normal for those who lost loved ones or those who worked cleaning up the rubble of the attacks. It's not normal for anyone who lived or worked near the attack sites. It's not normal for anyone who saw the attacks or their aftermath. It's not normal for the families of those who were sent to Afghanistan or Iraq and never came back. It's not normal for those currently serving their country in this war on terrorism and those they have left behind.
While a few people used the attacks as a catalyst to make life-changing decisions, most people quickly settled back into their routines. Although as a nation we now realize that the unthinkable can happen at any moment, at any place, fear doesn't govern our lives. Sure, security is a little tighter here and there, but, for the most part, there's still that invincible feeling about living in America. For the most part, we feel safe, even when we fly.
The two years since the attacks have seen Americans, including Kenai Peninsula residents, participate in lively discussions about patriotism and freedom and the role of the United States in other countries' affairs. Americans have questioned how the terrorist attacks led our troops first to Afghanistan and then to Iraq. We've debated how much security is worth the price of individual liberty.
It should be comforting to everyone that Americans are debating these issues and don't agree with one another. It's a sign that freedom still rings.
That's not to say all is perfect. A recent poll conducted for The Associated Press shows that while most Americans do not believe their individual liberty has been eroded by anti-terrorism laws yet, two-thirds of them believe it could happen.
On a separate question, only 31 percent said they think people's legal rights have been violated, while 58 percent said they had not, AP reported.
It's likely that Blair Palm, 48, of Stafford, Va., spoke for lots of Americans when she told AP: ''They have to restrict some freedoms to keep the majority of the people safe. I hope we'll be able to nip the terrorism threat before things go too far.''
So do we.
In the meantime, we hope today will be a day to remember those lost in the 2001 attacks and those who have died fighting for freedom since then. We hope it will be a day to reflect on our individual responsibility in keeping our nation safe and strong and protecting the freedom of all who live here. We hope it will be a day to honor those who have made it their practice to give their lives in service to others.
Community events today include the dedication of a new fire station on Funny River Road, a community blood drive at the Soldotna Sports Center, an opportunity to hear from NASA's associate administrator for education, and a salute to community service hosted by the mayors of Soldotna and Kenai.
Sept. 11 should be a day when all Americans renew their commitment to making the world even their small corner of it just a little bit safer, a little bit better in honor of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and those who have given their lives for freedom's sake since then.
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