There was a low-plane scare in Manhattan this morning — something about an Air Force photo shoot. There’s not much of political or military relevance to the incident. But I did find the following passage in the New York Times’s coverage arresting:

Carlina Rivera, 25, who works at Kaplan K12 Learning Services, on the 22nd floor of 1 Liberty Plaza, said her co-workers were spooked in part because their offices are so close to the site of the 9/11 attack. “As soon as someone saw how close it got to the buildings, people literally ran out,” she said. “Probably about 80 percent of my office left within two minutes of seeing how close it got to our building.”

Ms. Rivera, who was a high school student in the East Village when the 9/11 attack occurred, added, “I did feel a little bit foolish for staying in the office while everyone left.”

The finger-tip math checks out. If you were Carlina Rivera, New York City high school student, on the day that changed everything, today you’re Ms. Rivera, 25-year-old working woman, who doesn’t think a low-flying airliner reason enough to leave your office. It’s a startling reality check on how much time has passed, how lives have slid through several phases since that day. It’s also an indication of how much post-9/11 vigilance has dissipated. It’s easy to recall in the immediate wake of the attacks all the talk of the young people whose lives would now be defined and haunted by that day. With all the talk today of the Bush “torture” regime, it’s probably worth noting that seeing Ms. Rivera safely through her college-age years and into her non-traumatized early adulthood was a remarkable, if thankless, accomplishment on the part of the last administration.

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