In mid-August of 2001, I was let go from my marketing communications position at a Chicago-area company—a “victim” of the slowing economy that had severely impacted the company’s revenues. I quickly talked with other members of my church, who also were looking for work, and we formed a job-seeker support group.

The group met on Tuesdays at a coffeehouse, where news and music softly played in the background. Our second meeting was on Sept. 11, 2001. I remember feeling annoyed that one member of the group interupted our discussion when he heard that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers in New York. I dismissed the news as the accidental death of a poorly trained Cessna pilot.

I said something like, “Yeah, that’s sad…but we have to find jobs.” I wondered then how my fellow job-seeker could seem so taken back by the news of a single death in a city far away? Didn’t he worry, like I did, about paying the mortgage, feeding his family, and getting his self-esteem recharged?

As you know, the two planes that struck the World Trade Center that morning represented something far more sinister than I knew then. I returned home and spent the rest of that day in shocked horror, watching replay after replay of the collapse of the two towers, and the deaths of so many innocent people. It made my comment about needing a job seem so shallow and selfish.

The communicator in me tried to absorb the rapid-fire messages that came from the government, the media, and people I knew in the military and civilian realms. The Christian in me grieved for the terrorists who committed this horrible act, but cheered the sudden surge in interest around the nation in spirituality and faith. The spouse and father in me tried to stay positive as an already weakened economy went into sudden suspended animation. The slow job market nearly ground to a halt.

Looking back, five years later, I see that in the United States of America, people’s expectations remain high, our tolerance for pain is low, and our ability to be “Monday morning quarterbacks” is keen. Yet our memories of what truly is important seems so maddingly short.

Today, thank God, we remember.