It hardly seems possible, but 15 uneasy years have gone by since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Imagine, the incoming class of freshmen in our local high schools will be the first to view this historic tragedy as something that exists only in history books, something that happened before they were born.
I haven't heard of any events in the area to mark the anniversary, and I suppose that is understandable. It is not a particularly happy date to remind ourselves of over and over, or a comforting thought to realize anew how vulnerable we can be in a world that can be harsh and dangerous.
Problem is, if you don't learn from a painful outcome, you may be doomed to repeat it. It may not be wise to forget.
9/11 - such a historic event that it can be universally recognized simple by a date of the month - has never really been just a memorial for the 2,996 dead.
Letting it slide from our national consciousness would also be to forget countless heroic acts that took place in the wake of the attacks and hijackings. A lot of people willingly put themselves in harm's way, some giving their lives to protect others.
Others gave of their money, prayers and messages for families touched by the tragedies, police and firefighters called upon to respond, those serving in the military to protect their country and civilians everywhere - some still paying the personal price in lingering consequences of their service.
It is important to mourn those who died in senseless violence, but losses are not the only reason to remember. The way an entire nation responded was memorable and truly historic - the like had not been seen since the World War II era.
Love beat hate. Patriotism trumped petty differences. Important lessons, and worth remembering.
For a time, we were united. We appreciated our country and our freedoms so much more deeply.
For a short period, we were not Democrats vs Republicans, conservatives vs liberals, native borns vs immigrants, haves vs have nots, white vs. black, old vs young, urban vs. rural. We all were Americans above all else, and we stood together.
Imagine how strange it would have seemed at that moment to have athletes at sporting events choosing to publicly disrespect the flag and the national anthem as a means to make their complaints on social issues.
The same flag that firefighters struggled to erect on top of the rubble of the Ground Zero as captured in an iconic photograph, which gave us all such hope, is now trampled or burned in vague gestures over everything from race and socioeconomic issues to oil pipelines.
When did it lose all the value and meaning that it had 15 years ago this weekend?
Fifteen years later, what have we learned and fixed as a result of the national shock that was 9/11?
We are more divided than ever. Our politics are clearly more about fear and hatred than about unity and understanding. Our national elected officials are incapable of working together for positive change. Diplomacy seems like a foreign concept.
Both Republican and Democrat administrations have had a shot at responding to 9/11. Neither has been very focused or clear in what needs to be achieved. Let's be honest, little has come of it. Nothing has been repaired. Not much has changed at all.
Even with some of our liberties and privacy sacrificed for politicians' idea of security measures, are innocent people anywhere in the world any safer from random acts of terrorist violence than they were 15 years ago? Sure doesn't look like it.
Is the international community any more united in prevention of evil? Are we any closer to being done with military entanglements in the Middle East? Have we finally bridged our racial and religious chasms?
You know the answers to those questions.
We've largely forgotten what we set out to do. And September 11 has become just another day. Its meaning probably won't even cross most people's minds this weekend. It certainly won't get as much attention as football will on Sunday.
We're well on the way to forgetting what we vowed so sincerely we would never forget. Our American unity, and patriotism, seem too much like distant memories too.
Time passes, promises fade, we understand that. I hope we don't lose our appreciation of what it means to be American, though, and the price it has cost so many. We have to live that ideal, not just write it as a footnote in the history textbooks.