Opening Shot

Fostering an awareness of our commonalities, ten years after September 11th

Four planes. One-hundred-and-two minutes of the towers smoking. Almost three thousand dead. Then, suddenly, it is ten years later, and we are still coming to terms with the events of September 11, 2001, while our country is more divided than it has been for years. Bin Laden is dead, but the specter of terrorism remains; our memories of that day demand vigilance, most likely forever. Our hopes, meanwhile, demand a more fruitful way to honor the victims: an evaluation of the other challenges to our common American project, which have only grown in the years since. Some, like lower expectations about what privacy and civil liberties mean in the United States, are the bitter fruit of that dark autumn. Others are related to budgets stretched by outlays for a military fighting at least two wars: infrastructure unrepaired or unbuilt, for example, and fraying compacts with vulnerable citizens—the elderly, the poor, the jobless. In the wake of the attacks, the press produced work that has reflected both its best and worst tendencies. Now it has a role to play in fostering a conversation premised on the sense of common cause that the attacks too briefly evoked. Look at the people in the picture. They are all of us.

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review.