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In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the mantra became: If we don't continue on, then indeed, we will have lost.

And so, within a few days most Americans resumed their worldly pursuits. At football games and shopping malls, at burger joints and international airports, at home, at school, at work, at church, we bandaged our deep national wound with the familiar, the routine.

As the nation Monday marked five years since its latest day of infamy, many paused to remember.

But most continued on.

To be certain, it has been easier for some than others to march past memories of falling planes and crumbling towers.

Well past noon on Monday, none of the customers who had strolled up to Chris DeVito's pizza cart in downtown Salt Lake City had bothered to comment on the handwritten sign - "9-11 never forget" it read - placed under two American flags on the side of the cart.

If they had, the Queens-born entrepreneur would have pointed to a business card, crookedly framed, which rested on the cart's shiny steel counter.

"My sister's card," DeVito said.

The address on the card reads: ''Two World Trade Center.'' Roberta DeVito worked there on the 20th floor.

She survived the attack, but both siblings' lives were nonetheless forever altered. The economic slump that washed over Manhattan took with it both of their jobs. Roberta stuck around, finding work in a firm that had lost dozens of employees in the attack. But Chris, a computer programmer at the time, saw less hope in his future in New York. He moved to Utah, where he could spend more time skiing.

In a bit of employment irony, the attacks that cost DeVito his job helped him find a new one: Screening passengers and luggage for the newly formed Transportation Security Administration at Salt Lake City International Airport.

With dreams of someday opening his own restaurant, DeVito saved up $7,000 to buy a food cart. Last month he began hawking pizzas and calzones outside the City-County Building in Salt Lake City.

His days now are a blissful run-of-the-mill blur.

"I've tried to move on," said DeVito, a shock of blonde hair peeking out from under the brim of a green New York Jets cap. "I don't think anyone should ever forget, but we've had World Wars and people have gotten on with their lives. That's what I'd like everyone to do."

Just across the street, at the Salt Lake City library, hundreds of patrons were doing just that, spending the afternoon browsing through books, movies and music. In the sunlit library atrium, conversations turned from concerts to commutes to creationism.

The only visible reminder of the day's date: A small poster near the atrium's south entrance advertising a showing of "The Saint of 9-11."

The documentary shares the life of Father Mychal Judge, the first identified victim of the Sept. 11 attacks. Stepping out from the library theater after the film, Mary Jensen said she'd intended to visit the library as she would on any other day - to study.

"I came to get some work done," Jensen said. "And then I passed this sign and I thought, 'Maybe I am supposed to slow down a bit. Maybe I'm supposed to go to this movie.' "

Jensen, a former outdoor guide who wore hiking shoes and carried her books to the library in a backpacker's sack, was in the mountains of Wyoming on Sept. 11, 2001. Fellow mountaineers hiked in to tell her and the group she was instructing about the attacks.

Jensen doesn't believe things ever returned to "normal." But life moved on.

Now a nurse in the intensive care unit at University of Utah Hospital, Jensen tries to recognize small signs - like the poster at the library - as crucial to her understanding of the world.

For some, the signs are not so subtle. Most of the students at Copper Canyon Elementary School in West Jordan can't remember the Sept. 11 attacks, but they couldn't help but know, on Monday, that something was different.

Many parents dressed their students in red, white and blue. And on what some have come to call Patriot Day, Principal Diena Riddle spoke to her students about what it means to be an American. It gave her goose bumps, she said, when she heard them recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

But even in ultra-patriotic Utah, many principals reported a normal day for their students. The rote-recited oath to the nation's flag was part of a day filled with academics, lunch and recess, like most others.

And so it was in America's offices as well.

Even at supermarkets and commercial offices surrounding a memorial of some 3,000 flags - what organizers in Sandy called a "healing field" - commerce continued as usual.

The display did give pause to a some.

Business coach Todd Wilkerson had a panoramic view of the display from his office window, on the sill of which sat five silver-framed photographs of his children.

Wilkerson was selling commercial trucks on Sept. 11, 2001, and recalls that business that day was nonexistent.

"I'd arranged financing for one man," Wilkerson recalled, "and I called him that afternoon to tell him the good news, and he said, 'Are you nuts?' ''

"We were shut down for a day," he said. "But not forever."

Outside Wilkerson's office, standing watch over the field of flags, Sandy Police Officer Brandon Colton recalled a period after the attacks, however brief, "when things were different" for police officers.

Traffic stops became friendlier, Colton said, and strangers would stop in the street to thank him for his service to the community.

"That lasted about a month," said Colton, who sat astride his police motorcycle near the center of the vast flag display. "Maybe a month or two at the most."

The nation had continued on.


Tribune reporter JULIA LYON contributed to this report.