I think one of the best statements I read about September 11 was one by a writer in an English-language newspaper in Bangladesh. I don't have it exactly, but here's the paraphrase:
When the Twin Towers got hit on 9/11, Americans thought that the world had changed forever. But in the eyes of the rest of the world, it was America that had changed.
The author's point was that death and destruction and violence -- so much a regular part of life in so much of the world -- was something that we as Americans (well, maybe non-urban-dwelling, non-disenfranchised Americans) just did not have to deal with in the "before" time. But then after 9/11, we had to deal with the reality that we, too, were vulnerable, and we as a country consequently underwent a seismic shift in attitude about the world.
It won't surprise you to hear that I sometimes feel like I straddle both entities, that I am of both "America" and "the rest of the world." But on this day – the day that, ironically, spawned all of the policies and attitudes that make me feel more “other” than “American” – on this day, I feel more American than anything else. My sense of shelter and security was shattered, just like so many other of my neighbors.
Today, I’m so glad that the sky in San Francisco never gets to that bright, brilliant blue of New York and Boston on September 11, 2001. That sky, more than anything, is what has hit me in the gut in the past.