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An American flag and two bi-planes fly over the site of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Memorial Wall at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington in August 2016

Consider all that is going on here and in the world right now.

The never-ending debate over immigration is ignited again after the Trump administration decided to force Congress' hand on the controversial DACA issue.

Another fight over the debt limit is underway after Trump and Democratic leaders agreed to a deal not supported by the president's own party.

Hurricane Irma could rival what Harvey did to Texas.

And there is North Korea, a nation so irrational and unpredictable that no one seems to know what to do.

That's just in the past week.

It seems there is a crisis of varying degrees and lasting varying lengths of time about every other day.

Maybe that is just the world we live in now. A constant emphasis and focus on "today" and what is immediately in front of us.

But we should never forget the past — as this weekend illustrates more than at any other time in our recent history.

Monday marks 16 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania that literally changed the world we live in — and will continue to do so for decades to come.

For this generation, it was the Pearl Harbor of its day, a tragedy so immense and unthinkable that it is still hard to imagine it happened at all.

But it did.

In all, 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 were wounded in the attacks — statistics as jarring today as they were when we learned of the totality of the tragedy 16 years ago.

There were a lot of anniversary events to commemorate that day in the immediate years after 9/11. But they began to recede from the headlines as we moved onto other concerns and the inevitable march of time allowed us to think about other matters.

Certainly, the families of the victims have not forgotten and the day has been marked every year with a ceremony at Ground Zero in New York, where all the names of those who died are solemnly read aloud.

A lot of us pause that day, too. We might say a prayer or close our eyes for a moment. But then we go about our day and confront the good and bad that happen in our own lives.

Time, it is said, heals all wounds. Perhaps, but not this one. And it never should.

There are people, including our presidents who have served since then, who most assuredly lie awake at night thinking, "Can it happen again?"

There have been terrorist attacks in the succeeding years, with radical extremists killing innocent people. But what was done to our country on that day, on 9/11, cannot happen again.

This, despite all our differences. Despite all the political discord. Despite the growing perception among many that the world seems to be on the brink.

As a nation, we cannot allow it. Back then, there was naturally a lot of talk about this being the "united" states of America.

We can't forget that, either.


Central Illinois Deputy Editor

Central Illinois deputy editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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