Where were you 18 years ago, on Sept. 11? Few dates jog our memories quite like this one, wherever we were, if we “were” at all. Now that I have raised the question, I will answer for my own whereabouts, since they reflect a unique time frame in my life. I happened to be at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, undergoing tests for chronic back pain. Biofeedback and pioneering treatments were explored during my stay there. In the midst of all this, however, time stopped.

Next thing I knew, we were in lockdown mode, not knowing the extent of the attack we were in the midst of. Sirens sounded, eyes everywhere became glued to television screens, and cellphones, still relatively new to the general populace, were extracted from duffle bags and purses, in vain attempts to reach loved ones. In this infamous moment in time, everyone wanted to connect with those they held dear. Phone lines became so clogged, however, that access was difficult to acquire.

What remains indelibly imprinted in my mind is how, despite our diversity, or perhaps because of it, we came together as a nation. Our humanity and reverence for life rose above the chaos. First responders dug through the aftermath of the twin towers' demise, at what eventually became known as Ground Zero. Numbers were ticked off estimating the loss of life, while our country donned the sackcloth of grief.

Eighteen years later, I have yet to visit the memorial which now stands there, commemorating 9/11’s almost 3,000 fatalities. Around our country, around the globe, people will have held memorials during this week to pay homage to the people who perished on this day.

Our history is rife with consequences of violence, but never before, outside of the confines of a war, had we been attacked, prior to this day. This one day changed everything and everyone. Security, never that pressing a concern, became paramount. Metal detectors, pat downs, anything and everything once deemed private, became open for scrutiny.

Individual rights were now parlayed against public safety. Everyone was suspect. Terror within was as much a possibility as terror without. We could no longer be comfortable walking down our rural street without locking our front door behind us. Bye bye, Mayberry.

Today, more than ever, despite our differing backgrounds and heritage, we need to honor the fallen from 9/11 by putting aside our differences. Be vigilant, yes. But paranoia is not the ultimate answer.

Caution is always wise, but acceptance of our vast cornucopia of differences will allow us to survive and thrive. Call me Aunt Bea, but I am not quite ready to give up on mankind’s ultimate goodness.

Lynne Farrell Abrams has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. A Floridian for 20 years and a Central Floridian for the past 10, she appreciates the safety net provided by living in the Citrus County community. During her career, she was a writer and editor, a freelance writer, an adult education writing teacher, and most recently, a substance abuse counselor. She is now happily retired.

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