I know, I know. It’s been all over Social Media today. It’s the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. People have been hash tagging #neverforget #wherewereyou and a bunch of other stuff (I don’t have twitter so I only know what I’ve seen shared on facebook). Images of the towers, american flags, and that 2-Million Biker Ride on DC are plastered all over facebook and most major news outlets (I haven’t checked all of them). Pretty much everyone, except President Obama, observed a moment of silence this morning and I’m sitting here writing this blog, haven’t spent most of the day in reflection.
I can’t believe it’s been twelve years. Twelve years ago I was twelve years old (I’ll be twenty-five at the end of this month) and an eighth grader at a private school. Going to a private school, we attended chapel services every Tuesday. Before 9/11/2001, I had never heard of Al-Qaeda or the World Trade Center. I remember the school’s headmaster attending our chapel service and making the announcement about the towers.
As a twelve year old, I had a lot of trouble understanding/comprehending what was going on. I knew something “bad” had happened but I couldn’t really relate or empathize since I wasn’t directly affected by the events of that Tuesday morning so many years ago.
I remember all after school activities being canceled for the rest of the week. I remember some kids being allowed to go home early since they had family who was unaccounted for in the aftermath. I remember a lot of parents rushing to the school to get their kids, just wanting to hold them and thank God that none of their family was hurt. I remember endless discussions in various classes, dozens of writing assignments designed to get us to “process” our feelings. I remember doodling Sailor Moon fan art in my journals because I didn’t know what to feel or how to express it and didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t relate or empathize.
I think that 9/11 affects me more now as an adult. We declared a “War on Terror” and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002. I remembering watching the President declare war during 3rd period English. I remember the color draining out of my face and the icy sinking feeling in my gut. Now, as an adult, I know men and women my own age who went to war for President Bush’s folly. I know men and women, some of whom haven’t come home, some of whom haven’t come home whole. As I’ve grown up, it’s gotten personal. While I still don’t know anyone who died in the terrorist attacks, I have met people who were injured and I see the anguish on their face and their survivors guilt and I hate that I don’t know what to do to comfort them.
Living in a post-9/11 world, war and conflict is the last thing I want. I despair, seeing how much our nation has changed, how many civil rights and liberties we’ve sacrificed, how many we’ve willingly and ignorantly given up, in the name of “security”, to a government that’s gotten too big and it breaks my heart.
I remember how united we, as a country, were after 9/11. I remember the thousands of people who flocked to Ground Zero to aid in search and rescue. I remember the millions of people who turned up at the Red Cross to donate blood, funds, and goods to help those injured and killed, as well as their families.
I remember how we all came together. In those days and weeks after 9/11, it didn’t matter who was a Democrat or a Republican, it didn’t matter who was black or who was white, we were all Americans and our sense of security and our arrogance, thinking no one would dare attack us on our own soil, was rocked and instead of giving in to the chaos and turmoil that that group of Extremists had hoped for, we all came together to help in any way we could.
Sadly, I think a lot of people have forgotten that unity and we have fractured into hundreds of groups with conflicting interests who are too pigheaded to remember that we are all, first and foremost red-bleeding human, and second, American and no one is right, no one has the answers, no one is fixing anything or trying to bring all these different groups together to fix what’s broken and, twelve years after 9/11 and with the looming Syria issue, I fear we will finally face our downfall.