One week after September 11, 2001, I was sitting in a lobby at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. My dad was undergoing what turned out to be successful liver cancer surgery, but the day was a long one. It began at 5 a.m., when my wife and I began the one-hour drive from our home to Rochester. The day ended 22 hours later, with me turning off the computer at my home office. Sometime in the midst of those 22 hours, I received a message on my cell phone, telling me I needed to write a column ...

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