Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years On

Ten years ago, during my first week of college, I remember waking up to a ringing phone. My mom was on the other end, and she frantically told me that someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center. I scoffed, half asleep, and told her she must be mistaken. I tried to get off the phone and go back to sleep, but she was insistent, so I got up and turned on the T.V. She was right. I saw one of the twin towers engulfed in flame and frantic New Yorkers fleeing the scene. Moments later, another plane flew into the second tower. It was so surreal, it felt like I was watching a trailer for some cheesy terrorist movie. When the reality sank in, a feeling of sickness and shock hit me.

I remember many of the details of that day, but it was all in such a haze that it felt as if I was watching someone else's life from the outside. The whole thing was so jarring and incongruous because here I was a young, bright eyed college student embarking on an exciting new chapter of my life, and then this act of unspeakable evil occurred, threatening our safety and our lives. I knew that our nation and its people would never be the same after the attacks.

9/11 was my generation's Pearl Harbor or Kennedy assassination, not because the magnitude of either of those events is at all the same as 9/11, but because all three events robbed the country and its youth of their innocence. We were all different after 9/11. I saw firsthand how young people changed in the aftermath. Cynicism and hatred became more pronounced, war and its brutal effects were born out of those attacks, and many people I knew, and still know became irrationally fearful. Even though I wasn't directly affected by the events on that day, I do sometimes wonder how different my life would be if the towers still stood and all those people were still alive. It's silly to play the 'what if' game, and pointless because it did happen and we are living in a post-9/11 world. I just hope that we can someday get to a point where we are all a little more open, a little more trusting and a lot less fearful, like I was on September 10, 2001. That's my hope as we sit here, ten years on.

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