The Non-Legacy of 9/11

A U.S. flag flies over Ground Zero before the start of ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, September 11, 2011. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters) We should be grateful that one horrible day didn’t really change the American spirit.

On September 11, 2001, I stopped at a McDonald’s at 82nd and Broadway around 8:50 to treat myself to an Egg McMuffin ahead of what promised to be an exceptionally dull day downtown: my first day of jury duty. A radio playing in the restaurant (I think it was tuned to WINS-AM, New York’s 24-hour-news station) announced that “a small commuter plane” had struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. Like everyone familiar with the history of New York City, I immediately thought of the B-25 that had hit the Empire State Building in 1945. That tower survived, and wasn’t even that badly damaged. I wanted to believe the World Trade Center crash was just one of those crazy things that happen every day in the city: If it was a “small commuter plane,” perhaps it had been a private flight, and private pilots make

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