9/11 tenth anniversary: Reflections and fears

Most students know what the 11th of September means this year. For those who don’t know, it is not simply an ordinary anniversary of the terrorist attack that shocked the world. It is ten years later.

Much has changed over these ten years. Former President George W. Bush went from patriot hero to befuddled moron, the airports from idle surveillance to nearly violating people’s rights to prevent any possibility of a repeat incident. And yet, for those of us old enough to remember it, it seems impossible that ten years have passed.

I was seven at the time. And although I remember the announcement for going to war, I don’t remember the day itself—for which I may be profoundly grateful—but as I grew older, I learned more of what happened that day, how many lives were lost and the fear everyone must have felt as our national security, previously unquestioned, came crumbling down. This was a direct attack on U.S. soil, and in many ways, it was the first of its kind.

And here we are, many years after, and it seems impossible to me that there were children born after 2001, children who don’t understand why it was such a ‘big deal’. For them, terrorism has been a fact of life ever since they could remember, and for adults and older teenagers, it wasn’t always the case.

The weight of the situation might also come from a different source. We may mourn the more than 3,000 lives lost that day, but we also fear for our own lives. The situation in the Middle East has become more and more tense throughout the decade, and the death of Osama bin Laden, while assuring for a moment, filled those with an ounce of foresight with dread. We had killed their leader and some still do not suspect retaliation. And they may, both for the death of their leader and as a special something for the tenth anniversary.

Surely, our government is safe enough to avoid such an attempt. And indeed they have lost their naivete that, in part, allowed 9/11 to happen in the first place. Countless would-be terrorists have been caught by safety procedures only put in place after 2001.

We have all lost our naivete as well. In a way, 9/11 was a loss of innocence, an awakening to the American public (who, at the time, were not pressed by economic failure, suspect terrorism and political upheaval) and it told us that we were not invulnerable or invincible. In the end, it made us safer and as we look back on the event that will surely become more and more distant in our minds as time passes, we should mourn those lost, thank the safety we’ve gained and pray that the numbers 9/11 are never forgotten.