Americans mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 today with troops finally gone from Afghanistan, but national discord overshadows any sense of closure.
A whole generation has grown up since the morning of September 11, 2001. In the interim, al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden has been hunted down and killed.
A towering new skyscraper has risen over Manhattan, replacing the twin towers. And less than two weeks ago, the last US soldiers flew back from Kabul airport, ending the “forever war”.
Yet 9/11 never fully went away. The Taliban who sheltered Bin Laden are back ruling Afghanistan. The US military has been humiliated. Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others still await trial.
Ceremonies will unfold at each of the three places where al-Qaeda hijackers crashed packed airliners: Ground Zero in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United 93 crashed after passengers fought back.
President Joe Biden will stop at each of these places today to “memorialise the lives lost”. However, instead of presiding over a moment of unity, he will traverse a country angry about the chaotic Kabul evacuation and stung by the realisation of defeat.