Last updated: February 16. 2013 11:45PM - 247 Views

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FIREFIGHTERS ARE NOT supposed to weep.

We know that, just as we know that two steel buildings – identical 110-story towers teeming with public servants, secretaries and financiers – are not supposed to evaporate, jetliners are not supposed to double as torpedoes, rising ash shouldn't blot the morning sun, bodies shouldn't cascade from the sky like falling acorns while horrified observers beg God to suspend gravity, Americans shouldn't glance upward all afternoon and wonder where the "fifth plane" is or for how long the heavens will stay so silent and so empty, a child should not be told that Daddy won't be coming home tonight. Or ever again.

It goes against all expectation.

The terrorist attacks against the United States 11 years ago today threw much of what we thought possible, and preventable, into question. More than a decade on, we continue to wrestle with the consequences: historical and human.

Our lives – their lives – were not supposed to be interrupted this way, by hateful acts executed with improbable precision and results still difficult to believe. It seemed then, as it seems now, unreal.

A southwestern Pennsylvania field is not supposed to be a spot where we praise the dead who stopped our nightmare from intensifying. A charred cellphone shouldn't be the centerpiece of a museum exhibit. The sight of an azure September sky should not leave us, if only for an instant, unnerved. But it does.

And, on this calendar date especially, we are not supposed to forget why.

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