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How we've changed since Sept. 11

Today, as we pause to remember the horrific events of 9/11/01, the direct impact it has had on thousands and the millions who have suffered along with them, it's all the more apparent that our wounds may never heal.

As a society, we have changed. We're more guarded; more in tune to the perils of life, the threat of a single terrorist, the momentary difference between life and death.

For some, that means being more cautious. They choose to avoid big cities, events that draw thousands of people or even flying because they fear it could happen again.

For others, the choice is different. They challenge the odds, figuring what will be, will be.

But even those brave at heart have to admit that they view the world differently. Maybe it's as simple as looking at a foreigner with an eye of caution. Or just making sure you tell that special person that you love him or her that extra time.

Over the past two years, these changes have crept into our lives. Some we have implemented consciously. Other changes have been more instinctive, much like the small child learning what hurts and what doesn't.

Our attitudes have also changed dramatically.

Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, we were hurting, a country looking for answers.

We've evolved since that day to a country that knows some of those answers. We have a good idea who was responsible, and we want them to pay.

We want justice. We want assurance that tomorrow will be safe for our children and our children's children.

Of course how we can get there is a point of argument.

For some the answer is negotiation. For others, it's time for a war cry that echoes to the heavens.

The attacks of 9/11 have also impacted each of us through various efforts to make us more safe. Some say they have been effective since there haven't been other attacks. Critics say we've surrendered too many of our civil liberties.

In that argument, it's safe to say that both sides are at least partially right.

Where do we draw the line at protecting ourselves? When does that self-protectionism border on Big Brotherism or the days of Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia, when it was neighbor against neighbor, family spying on family?

The attacks of 9/11 brought on all of these issues, forever changing how we view the world in which we live.

Fortunately, one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to remain the "land of the free and the home of the brave" -- no matter the cost.

John G. Miller