Here in the East Valley, our morning 10 years ago was cracked wide open. Breath was hard to come by. Incomprehensible television images tore a hole in our hearts. But, as one first responder said on CNN this past week, we've "had a choice of what to do with that space."
And now we assess: Many will never forget 9/11, but from where I stand, our nation remains under attack - from within.
We saw the George Bush years become what many ignorantly try to forget. They were the steadying years; the years in which adrenalin had to be used well, for more attacks against our sleeping nation surely were in the works - works set up during the golden, Clinton years.
Clearly, no matter how we judge the Bush administration as a whole, we have remained safe. The watch now rests within the care of another president and his advisors. We shall see.
At the top of my memory is the sacrificial suicide of Flight 93 where the best of men bravely stopped the worst of men, intent on fulfilling evil.
And, then, we had bodies. No, not bodies... real people with names and dreams falling from towers - most certainly in prayer - and only after they'd spoken with loved ones, one final time. Those transcripts, those farewell words of love rang deeply within my own gut and remain there today, seared and sacred. And, then, strangers escaping with strangers on ash white streets as fire fighters gave their lives in their climb to nowhere.
Amidst it all, home, family and friends claimed first thought, first response. Love won out as hate had its way. A nation became bonded in an instant. It was electric.
Why then, today, are we divided? Why has "that space in our hearts" taken on bitterness and separation? What kind of nation would forget the sounds, the stories, the lessons? Why would we choose a leader who is not loyal to America? And, now we see that what we gained on that day of death has been squandered.
The cost for "change" has been too high, not just in dollars, but in image and character, in confidence and hope. Worker unions, once formed as a refuge for the common man, have become an enemy. Our borders are political pawns; our jobs exported; corruption reigns in the treasury.
And, citizens who walk the talk of families, pride in nation and founding principles, who rise up to defend what was there 10 years ago, are attacked in the most vile ways. One decade. Ten years. How did we lose so much?
In some ways, 9/11 was a blessing. It pushed us into a phase of testing where citizens loved strangers; that very love a healing balm. But here, today, it's forgotten, buried in hostility over money and demands for more and better. All while we remain far more blessed than any other and yet, we're self destructing.
Since that day, we've fought on other shores. And, now we fight here, currently using weapons provided by our fore fathers, and pray they will be enough to prevent civil hate from turning a golden land into a war that overshadows 9/11.
The Declaration of Independence points in the direction of recovery: "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
Empowerment is found in the ashes of 9/11; a reminder that love of country requires action. We must stay awake. We must not sleep.
• East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.