Juliette Kayyem: Never Say 'Never Again'





Juliette Kayyem served as homeland security advisor to Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and, most recently, as assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the Obama administration. After over 11 years responding to a world where "stuff happens," she is now a columnist for the Boston Globe and teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

There will be no politicians at the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. They are no longer invited. Organizers of the memorial have now decided that they want to make the solemn events more intimate. The decision also reflects the continuing struggle between New York City, New York state, and New Jersey over the memorial, the museum, control of the site, and, as a consequence, the memory of 9/11. Last year, on this same day, the political grandstanding got so outlandish that it led to a showdown between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg over the choice of readings.

But, whatever the motivation, the United States may be ready for a change on how to remember 9/11 too. It is time to make it personal again, to make it less an event or even a call to action. The burden of tragedy is private, but the 9/11 families lost possession of a day that was ultimately theirs. So many of them -- embracing new lives, spouses, children, professions, but forever cognizant that it might have been so much different -- have, at long last, carried on. America needs to do the same.

This last decade has been summed up by a series of mottos that captured its zeitgeist. The War on Terror. Mission Accomplished. With Us or Against Us. The Surge. Heck of a Job. One Percent Doctrine. Red (Orange, Yellow, Green, Purple, Hazy) Alert. The System Worked. Security Theater. Bin Laden Is Dead.

But surely none has so animated the way we think about, and organize around, America's security than the two words uttered by President George W. Bush as early as Sept. 14, 2001, and repeated to defend policies as far ranging as the war in Iraq to the establishment of the NYPD's massive counterterrorism unit: Never Again...



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