It seems that the collective memories, the ones where everyone alive at that moment knows exactly where they were and what they were doing, are among the most painful memories we share.
Sept. 11 is no less painful in 2008 than in 2001 because we all take on its shadow and commiserate in common memories.
We recall our friends and coworkers first telling us, or the radio coming alive with news, the rumors and the fear, and the sense that this day would forever divide our lives between before and after.
We wonder, though, if the pace of modern living makes these events seem less substantial than they are. We question whether we are too used to having every event in history boiled down to one-minute news stories that make for dramatic TV.
That's why it's so important to keep remembering our own experience on 9/11 each year.
Those memories are what bind us together. They pull us closer as a nation, drive a desire in us to proudly fly our American flags and give us the strength to believe in our way of life and system of government - warts and all.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that the inherent flaw of story telling is it divides people between main and supporting characters. There is no way for the media to get around this problem, but it is a disservice to this tragedy if we recognize only the bigger symbols.
Talking about freedom and the buildings that were destroyed is only small rhetoric if we don't remember the lives lost then and since.
And no matter how much we want it to and how important we think it is, all of our reporting of stories of survivors and victims, or of heroes and villains, will not replace the memories we each formed that day.
To the unnamed victims from that day, the ones who died at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and on United Airlines Flight 93, we remember you. To their families, we have not forgotten you.
We will do our best to honor your suffering and the hurt this disaster unleashed on the United States and on the world the best way we each know how - by remembering why this day is significant to each of us.
But this shouldn't be seen as a single day to be aware of your countrymen and women's sacrifice.
Part of remembering Sept. 11, 2001, is remembering what has happened since then. We must remember our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who continue to trade their lives and blood for our freedom. Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of the mission, there is no greater honor than their service to our country.
Tomorrow, some people will fly American flags high and proud. Many more of us will remember and think - and mourn.
We are thankful, though, that the healing seems to have begun.
We no longer agonize over why airport security takes two hours, fretfully looking over our shoulders and replaying the Twin Towers footage back in our minds.
The normalcy of our daily lives has returned, as we hoped it one day would.
We simply hope others in this town - and across this country - will join us in remembering.
Sept. 11 is an anniversary we cannot afford to forget.