“Where were you when …?”
We’ve all asked this sort of question. Where were you when the planes hit the Twin Towers? Where were you when you heard JFK was shot? Where were you when you heard Kobe Bryant died?
The unstated thing about such questions is the assumption that you were a spectator of one kind or another when something momentous happened. And for most Americans, that’s how we experience historic events—as spectators.
The 9/11 attacks were a huge event for most of us who were alive then. But how many lives did 9/11 directly and meaningfully affect, particularly outside New York and Washington? Not many in the grand scheme of things. (Hassles at airports don’t count.)