We would like to think that a decade later we could view a day in history like Sept. 11 with perspective.

However, when we consider the scale of Sept. 11, 2001, we find that 10 years have not provided us with much distance at all.

In the course of a single morning, the world witnessed a nearly complete picture of humanity at its best and worst. The Twin Towers themselves stood as an example of the near limitlessness of humanity’s ambition and reach, what we can build due to our genius, artistry and industry.

We witnessed the courage and selflessness of firefighters, police and other first responders, who ran toward danger to help others and were lost. In photo after photo, we saw the honest reactions of sympathy and horror from the witnesses at the scene. Across the world, people who were strangers to the victims prayed that they would be delivered.

We also were delivered a vivid picture of humanity’s capacity for hatred, violence and callousness.

A great many illusions died at Ground Zero, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field that day along with almost 3,000 human beings. As a country, likened often to a young teenager, we were suddenly thrust into a world that many across the globe confront on a daily basis. Terrorism, and the emotional and spiritual fallout of terrorism, became a constant focus.

During the past decade, we have sought answers to the questions raised by Sept. 11. It has affected how we view freedom, security, faith, courage and patriotism. It has affected how we think about international relations and politics; it has touched our core beliefs, our confidence, our economy, our relationships with landscapes and other humans.

We have reflected much, and not enough. Our conversations about Sept. 11 have been many, and are just beginning. This year, on the 10-year mark of that awful morning, that morning when the sun shone so brightly on the East Coast of America, it will behoove us to pause, to reflect on this collective passage we have made, and to remember those souls who perished on Sept. 11.

There are many observances and remembrances planned around Waldo County on Sunday, Sept. 11. Consider attending one of them, step into a community for a few minutes, and pause with humans around the globe.

This year, perhaps Sept. 11 can be remembered as something other than a series of horrific images or an opportunity to advance political agendas. Those who were killed were civilians and community members, hard-working, family-oriented friends and neighbors who did not see themselves as symbols in some global political and ideological war.

This was their tragedy and that of their families.

Down the years, as we pass on and future generations seek to understand the events of Sept. 11, the day will line up along the chain of many other memorable and horrible acts of human history. To them, it will be a day of bloodshed in a textbook filled with such days.

It will be for us — those who lived through it, saw it, felt it — to make sense of what happened, and find in its deepest, most awful cruelty some shred of how it will become a day that truly did change everything.