In early September of 2001, the hottest items in the news were the growing calls for House Ethics Committee action against California Congressman Gary Condit and Democrats railing against President Bush over what they called an impending raid on Social Security Trust Funds they had plundered for years.
Then 19 radical Muslims – most of them Saudi nationals acting for Osama bin Laden – gave us a new sense of perspective on what's really important.
They hijacked four airliners. They ran one into each tower of the World Trade Center. They ran another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Authorities don't know what they planned to do with the fourth – perhaps an attack on the U.S. Capitol or the White House. Instead, passengers fought back, and that plane ended up crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.
It was the most vicious, murderous attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor in 1941.
What's worse, it was on innocent men, women and children who were going to work, going shopping or visiting the sights in New York or police officers and firefighters trying to save lives once the attacks started.
Their crime? They existed without believing in the warped, twisted, hateful perversion of Islam that had poisoned the hearts and minds of the attackers.
America fought back. It deposed the Taliban in Afghanistan that had played host to bin Laden and his al-Qaida henchmen. It also deposed Saddam Hussein and is fighting to make Iraq a free democratic state.
Life is vastly different now. We face an enemy that learns in even the temperate Moslem schools that non-believers of any age and gender are vermin who are less than human and unworthy even to exist.
We won't be shaking hands with them and hugging and crying anytime soon. If we did they would consider us stupid as well as subhuman.
The only thing we can hope to do is make attacking us too dangerous and too costly to try. That's an unpleasant fact, but it will be a fact of life nonetheless from now on.
We will ignore it at our peril and the peril of our loved ones.