16 Years: The Lifetime Between Here and 9/11

A man stands at the edge of a waterfall pool during a ceremony at ground zero in New York, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Holding photos and reading names of loved ones lost 16 years ago, 9/11 victims' relatives marked the anniversary of the attacks at ground zero on Monday with a solemn and personal ceremony. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Today marks sixteen years after the day that changed everything…


Sixteen years.

For those of us alive and aware on September 11, 2001 that day is seared into our collective memories. Every year we share the stories of where we were and how we heard, how we coped and how much we worried.


It boggles the mind to think about how much time has passed since that day. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. We can still feel the sting of that day. It still feels like a fresh wound for so many of us.  However, for many more today is just another day. An entire generation has been born and raised since the Twin Towers fell. I was just weeks pregnant with my son at the time. Today he is 15 years old. September 11th is pretty much meaningless to him. It’s a day I make him watch depressing documentaries in my awkward attempt to make him care. That’s about it.

I can’t help but think of all that’s happened between now and then. I can’t help but realize how much life has been missed by those we lost that day. I’m sure that’s all their families think about it, but for those of us who didn’t lose personal loved ones, sometimes we need to stand back and take stock of what we’re missing, who we we’re missing, and all they’ve missed.

Sixteen years of birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries….celebrations and tragedies. In sixteen years those who were children then have become adults. How many little girls became women who didn’t have their daddies to walk them down the aisle? How many little boys became men who never got the chance to bring the love of their lives home to meet their mama? How many wives have been robbed of the chance to share grandparent-hood with their missing husbands? How many husbands have lost all those plans they made with the one person they’d always planned a future with?


In the sixteen years since 9/11 we’ve seen the election of a black president and watched a woman who was only then known as the former First Lady become a viable presidential candidate.

Back then we were just discovering texting, and now we each carry a computer in our pockets everywhere we go. What once was something cool is now indispensable.

Netflix, Amazon, streaming tv…

Obamacare, gay marriage, transgender madness…

Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner and his former stepdaughter is now one of the most famous women in the world because of a sex tape. Bill Cosby turned out to be a giant creep and alleged rapist.

Edward Snowden, #OscarsSoWhite, the Fast and Furious franchise…

The cold war is back on, global warming is now global climate change and college students have to sign “sexual consent” forms before they even try to get a date.

The nuclear family is out and giving hormones to little boys who think they want to be girls is in.

Prince William has two children and a third on the way, and his brother is about to marry a black woman.

House of Cards, The Wire, Lost, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Fifty Shades of Grey and splitting the third movie in a trilogy into two movies…so many cultural touchstones and water-cooler moments have come and gone in that time.


Black Lives Matter, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, white celebrities adopting African babies…

High fructose syrup is now worse than sugar, eggs are good for you and everyone is allergic to gluten.

Denzel Washington finally won an Oscar and Robert Downey, Jr. came back from addiction to become one of the most successful superheroes of all time.


The Chicago Cubs finally won a world series and so did the Boston Red Sox.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States!

So much life has happened. So many paradigm shifts have come and gone for all of us. There is so much that so many people have missed.

That is the real tragedy of the unjust loss of a person…or 3,000 persons. We don’t just lose their presence, we lose a piece of the future. We’ll never get to share the crazy twists and turns of life and culture with an entire swath of our population because of the evil visited upon us by Islamic terrorists 16 years ago. Of course, that loss is felt most deeply by those families and friends who were personally affected that day but in a larger way, the loss belongs to all of us because in this country Americans are an “us”….and our “us” is wounded. It will always be wounded. We will never really forget, even as generations move on from the pain and past the horror.


So much life has passed without so many important people.

This is what stands out to me the most as we look back on the sixteen years since those murders. The world has moved on, but those we lost that day will never get to stand in awe of all the changes alongside us.

And we will never forget that.


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