Even before the full horror of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had sunk in, even as thousands of families mourned for lost loved ones, we Americans were being urged to get back to ''normal.'' That would be the most effective, meaningful retaliation against Islamic extremists, we were assured.
Most of us heeded the advice. For the majority of Americans, life is as if 9/11 had never happened.
But it did, and it was appropriate that we remembered that whether the terrorist threat is ''top of mind'' or not, 9/11 changed our lives and our world forever.
In many towns, cities and states, special observances were held to commemorate the events of 9/11. Flags were flown at half-staff, moments of silence were observed, wreaths were laid and in some places, large ceremonies were held.
It was appropriate to mourn the more than 10,000 people who have been victims of the war against us by terrorists, just since Sept. 11, 2001.
Nearly 3,000 men, women and children died in the initial attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania. Among them were more than 400 firefighters, paramedics and police officers.
Since 9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have claimed the lives of 6,551 U.S. service men and women. Thousands more have been maimed in body and mind.
And in a world where it sometimes seems we Americans have few real friends, it is important to note several other countries still have troops serving with ours in Afghanistan. Great Britain, our firmest ally, has lost 606 troops fighting shoulder to shoulder with ours.
Last week's slaughter of an American ambassador and his staff in Libya following by swelling hostilities throughout the middle east as the week progressed are reminders of 9/11 and the difficulty to keep us safe - to allow most Americans to live ''normal'' lives.
We must constantly remind ourselves about the debt we can never repay to all those who defend us, both at home and abroad. And we must constantly remind ourselves to rededicate efforts to overcoming a vicious, implacable foe.