United States ten years later

Ten years ago the United States and the world as we knew it was forever changed when the cowardly acts of Sept. 11 were carried out on American soil.

Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives on that tragic day. A day that will be forever burned in the memories of everyone, young or old, who experienced it.

No one needs to remind you of the events of 9/11. We all lived it. Everyone has his or her own thoughts and feelings about that September morning. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to remember, but a decade later we must examine where we are as a country.

Is America better off in 2011 than we were on Sept. 12, 2001?

Ten years removed, the United States is in the midst of its longest war in history. Longer than World War II and the Civil War combined. 4,500 Americans have been killed. Nearly 32,000 have been injured. $1.2 trillion has been spent.

The pain of Sept. 11 slipped from the national consciousness long ago, but everyday American servicemen die fighting for the war that was brought to this country’s shores in 2001.

We are fighting, not against another nation in a defined uniform, but a group of people with an ideology of hate. This conflict is like nothing the United States has ever seen.

Many question whether the price of war has been worth it. Fathers, brothers, sons and daughters have perished. Families have been torn apart. The trillion dollars spent fighting has left the United States in massive debt. Afghanistan today is in no better shape than it was in 2001.

But in the wake of 9/11 something had to be done. Terrorism isn’t an imaginary threat. Without a military presence abroad, I’m not sure we’d be sitting here 10 years later without another terrorist attack on American soil.

The “War on Terror,” defined by the Bush administration, was terribly mishandled in many areas and the lives lost can never be replaced.

However, Al-Qaeda is way less organized and effective. The threat of coordinated attacks against U.S. cities has diminished. American citizens are safer in our own backyard and that makes the pain and suffering of war a necessary evil.

Protecting its citizens is the number one priority of any government. Since 9/11, other steps have been taken to make America safer. Security at ports and airports has increased. Technology is being created to make the searches more thorough and less invasive for travelers.

The highly disputed Patriot Act allows the Department of Homeland Security to cut through red tape to catch potential terrorists before they can act.

So while this country is still in the midst of a war and a struggling economy, progress since 9/11 has made America stronger and safer. Despite all the hardship suffered these last 10 years, the United States is better off for it today.