No student attending Baker High School now had yet been born on that sunny September morning that changed America forever.

Twenty years.

Two decades.

There are many ways to measure the divide between today and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some are purely numerical. Others, like the reference to current students at BHS, reflect this span of time in a way perhaps more surprising than straight statistics.

Nearly one generation of Americans has no memory of that day.

For those of us who were alive, and old enough to form specific and lasting recollections about the moment we heard what had happened — and what was still happening — the memories likely remain vivid.

The significance of even epochal events such as 9/11 inevitably fades, of course.

The years pass and they yield their dismal harvest of fresh tragedies and historic happenings.

The past 20 years have hardly been deficient in either category. We have endured the losses of some of the best among us in Afghanistan, a direct result from the 9/11 attacks, and in Iraq. We have weathered the worst economic episodes since the Great Depression.

And of course we remain mired in the most severe pandemic in a century.

Yet that September morning remains one of the defining events in America’s history, comparable, to cite a few examples within living memory, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986.

Much as the images from those terrible days have become ingrained in our national memory, so too have the incomparable scenes of those two great towers, landmarks in our biggest city, ablaze and eventually crumbling.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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