"Are you afraid of terrorists attacking us again tomorrow?"
This question came from my ten-year-old last night: a child who was not yet seven months old when the Twin Towers fell.
Her brother, who was seven on 9/11/01, was seated next to me in the car when this question was asked.
One of these children knew a time before fear; the other did not.
Ten years later we are still struggling, as a nation, to return to fearlessness.
Our country has, in truth, always known fear. We have cycled through wars, and military conflicts. We have seen economic downturns and deprivation.
We have seen scarcity and violence. We have known uncertainty.
But a decade ago, we felt our borders breached. The angst and anger of the world thrust itself upon our continent.
Our country was violated in a way previously unknown--or at least unknown in the previous century.
I have, as a physician, witnessed the aftermath of violation. Some of my patients have been raped; others molested. Many, particularly the patients I cared for as a medical director at our county jail, have known violence.
It is the assault on innocence that has the farthest-reaching impact. It is the violation of something held sacred that can insidiously devastate a life.
It is the violation of trust that traumatizes us the most completely.
Which is in essence what happened on September 11th.
We were, as a country, assaulted.
And we still bear the wounds.
We must continue to do everything in our power to continue to heal. It is not enough to tighten security and hope that this will not happen again.
We must seek to re-build trust. We must acknowledge the enormity of the event that occurred, and never forget its import.
And we must attempt to re-create the sacred in our country. We must regain our footing as a nation, and attempt to find a new identity.
Or else we will remain forever traumatized. We will be forever fearful.
And our children, even those who were not yet cognizant on 9/11/01, will be forever fearful too.