The reaction I had to this morning’s 9/11 events was one of frustration. How long are we going to stare at this hole in our lives? It’s been seven years, and there’s still a 16-acre hole in Manhattan – and in our national psyche.

Later today, President Bush will dedicate a memorial park in front of the Pentagon where 184 people perished seven years ago. It’s a simple but important memorial, built largely with private donations. Just some benches, trees and small reflecting pools located just feet from where American Airlines Flight 77 struck the building.

But we’re still three years away from seeing a decent memorial at Ground Zero. Maybe 9/11/11, they say. As for Freedom Tower, although the cornerstone was laid in 2004 and foundation work began two years later, we’re still years away from seeing that completed, due to a morass of cost issues, legal disputes, planning dysfunction and analysis paralysis. This strikes me as the biggest tragedy of all. What happened to that pledge to quickly fill the gap in the New York City skyline?

In our front page story this morning, we asked a group of high school students what they have learned since 9/11. I think the better question is, “What are we teaching them about how to recover and cope with catastrophe?”
Seven years later, that hole remains a trophy on al-Qaida’s mantel. Let’s fill the **** thing in.

– Paul Gullixson