At my first sight of the National Guardsmen in at Laguardia Airport in New York last Friday, I suddenly realized that this trip is my first time on an airplane since September 11th. While on the plane, I tried to keep it out of my mind — that shudder of the airframe was just turbulence, that man standing up and walking to the front just needs to use the restroom — but it was always bubbling just underneath the surface. Changing planes in Dallas, though, it wasn’t hard for it poke right up into my consciousness, since all the National Guardsmen here in Texas are carring their M-16s right across their chests, the American terminal was empty (where it used to be full of people waiting to meet flights), and things just felt palpably more…. tense.

Today’s the six-month mark after the attacks, and it’s fitting that I’m traveling; it’s one way to force me to think about what happened, make it a little more personal, and remember everyone and everything that was lost that day. Nobody can seriously say that America was innocent before that day, but in looking back, it’s clear how much more innocent we were, and how much has changed in our daily lives. Thinking about the past six months is still sobering, it’s still thought-provoking, and it still has the ability to completely overwhelm me.