Local kids fresh out of high school joined the military. So did older men and women.

Anthrax became a household term. Two wars began.

Parents wondered whether it was safe for kids to trick-or-treat onHalloween.

During the winter holidays, people feared malls and other gathering places, while economic experts urged people to shop, shop, shop.

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Don't let the terrorists paralyze the economy, they said. That's just what they want.

Fear, camaraderie wane

As the years passed, the fear and the camaraderie of the early days waned.

But emergency preparedness improved in counties, on university campuses and at local businesses.

States like Maryland pursued funding for memorials.

Special occasions brought people with flags back to highway overpasses. In some locations, the flags became permanent fixtures.

The Sept. 11 bond has remained, in its own way, if frayed a bit as people go about their daily lives and debate our government's resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It remains a largely unifying factor, shapes how we see the world.

For older people, the attacks of Sept. 11 are in a list of events they'll never forget — like the JFK and MLK assassinations, and landing on the moon.

For younger people, Sept. 11 is the list – or at least it was until May of this year, when President Barack Obama announced Navy Seals had killed Osama bin Laden, and college students from around the region flocked to the White House to celebrate the demise of their age-group's boogie man.

For them and those younger, Sept. 11 has defined the world. And it redefined it for the rest of us.

The term "post-9/11" has entered our national lexicon and even our law. We surrender our water bottles and remove our shoes at airport security, submit to body scans. People think less about World War III, and more about the "next 9/11."

For area residents who lost loved ones that September morning, all these commonalities mean little next to that singular smile they miss, that sense of humor, or that big-brother charm.

Anniversaries are hard. The whole thing gets drummed up again, rehashed, analyzed once more.

Ten years later, that's still the case. And perhaps it always will be.

Reporting for this essay came from archived Patuxent Publishing stories dating back to Sept. 11, 2001.