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The shock is gone now. The horror still remains.

Those terrible images of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 colliding into the South Tower of the World Trade Center with the North Tower already ablaze from the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 are forever engraved in our collective memories as a specter of absolute unmitigated malevolence.

Those images cut deep into our souls, leaving indelible scars and robbing us of the illusion of our complacent sense of security.

A full 19 years ago today, people around the globe were glued to their television sets, witnessing in real time what constituted one of the most heinous acts of terrorism in the annuls of modern history, and the memories of that vile barbarity are no less vivid now, as we reflect on the legacy of that gruesome act.

Evil proclaimed itself victorious that day, but only for a brief moment.

Only until a team of dedicated New York firemen, police officers and countless other volunteers, risking their own safety to rescue others, proved that good could overcome evil.

Only until the heroic passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 rose up in altruistic determination to resist their hijackers and sacrifice their own lives for the greater good, aborting a fourth attack.

Evil did not see that it was eclipsed by the nobler spirit of selfless humanity.

Evil believed it had won outright.

And taking up its newly honed tool of grandiose massacre, it set about the business of replicating “spectacular terror” with similar acts of abhorrent bloodshed in the form of the 2004 Madrid train bombing, the 2005 London Underground attacks and numerous other depraved assaults on innocent civilians, year after year after year.

Atrocity after atrocity, evil continues to wage its horrific war of terror against society, hiding behind lurid banners of political ideologies and fanatical religious obsessions.

The proposed objectives of that war are ambiguous, but the outcome is certain, the senseless slaughter of blameless lives.

Terror was not born on Sept. 11, but on that day it took on a global face of malice that has only helped to congeal the civilized world’s conviction to resist the evil that threatens to unhinge the very foundations of human development.

Evil did not win that day.

It spurred two costly and futile wars in the Middle East and rent away part of the fragile fabric of international trust and goodwill that was fostering a global environment of democratic values and social equality for all, particularly in the Middle East.

It claimed the lives of 3,017 innocent victims.

But evil did not win that day.

The human spirit is far too compassionate and has too much moral clarity to give in to the diablerie of hatred spun by radical extremism, this century’s heritor of totalitarian ideology.

The 19 ruthless assassins who commandeered the four U.S. airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania could not tarnish the fundamental principles of a durable democratic creed and simple human decency.

Evil did not win that day.

…Sept. 11, 2020

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