In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks against this nation, a significant question looms: How do we return to normalcy?
There's probably little agreement on how a return to normal life can occur. Ten different experts give 10 different answers.
One thing is certain. We cannot allow these terrorists to win. We cannot allow them to destroy the freedom Americans have fought and died for.
It's difficult to talk about returning to normal in the face of terror. The scars that run through families and communities will last, forever.
Some parts of our routine, such as air travel, will remain changed. There will be longer delays as security measures are tightened. There will be more questions and careful screening before passengers are allowed at the gate. And that is as it should be, and probably as it should always have been.
Border crossings will certainly be even more involved than ever, which, ironically, forces conversation about increased border patrols.
There is a price we pay for living in a free, open society. It has its risks, as well as its rewards.
We expect the worst right now. People anticipate we'll have to lock up our society to be safe, and that's an understandable response.
On the other hand, there will be some kind of retaliatory reaction, and that will frame how we proceed. Eventually, there will be tension with regard to the fundamental rights and freedoms this country was built upon. Tolerance for the loss of those freedoms for the sake of capturing the bad guy will evaporate.
Retaliation against those who attacked this nation is justified. If that retaliation goes awry, it could send this nation in another direction. But if that retaliation embodies justice and creates a balance, people will once again seek out the freedoms upon which our country was based.
We cannot allow terrorists to stop us in our tracks. Returning to routine doesn't mean important discussions and safety measures will end. It simply means that we won't allow terrorists to send us cowering into a corner.
There is no doubt that Sept. 11, 2001, is a day that will live in infamy. But it shouldn't be regarded as the day terrorists succeeded in forcing America into its collective shell.