9/11: Before and after

The 9/11 memorial reflecting pools represent the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Each victim has their name inscribed in stone bordering the pools, and loved ones often leave flowers.  Photo by Kelly Camera.

My mom shook my sister and I awake on Sept. 11, 2001, and she tried to explain what just happened. 

I was eight-years-old at the time, and I didn’t fully understand the gravity of the terrorist attack which occurred until I continued watching the news footage. I slowly began to piece things together.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, and yet last semester I realized I was the only student in one of my classes who remembers that day.

I did the math. Most of my classmates were only toddlers in 2001. To be fair, I am only a few years older, but I am old enough to remember the attacks and how they affected our country.

The aftermath of 9/11 is unlike anything I experienced in my life. The most notable crisis I remember before 9/11 was the Y2K bug which retrospectively became something of a joke. 

Problems still existed in the world, but we didn’t carry an underlying tension about being attacked while we lived our civilian lives. Security in airports and schools didn’t exist. Life was mostly carefree. The 9/11 terrorist attacks caused a monumental shift in the way we live. 

The majority of Americans remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about the attacks. 

We all shared this similar series of moments that tie us together and made it more difficult to dehumanize each other and our views. 

We could have become more polarized and turned on each other, but instead something amazing happened. Despite being hurt and scared, people found a way to band together.

When I think about 9/11, I could choose to think about the people who carelessly chose to create destruction and fear, but instead, I want to remember the people who came together to help and support each other.

Unlike the political climate of today, there was a sense of bipartisan collaboration then. It crumbled away as times change and no current tragedies force us to put aside our differences and work with one another.

My only hope is the next generation can succeed where past generations failed. I hope they find a way to capture and foster the sense of unity that we could only achieve after tragedy.