In honor of 9/11 I am reposting what I wrote last year.
First off I am torn between wanting the day off for reflection, remembrance (and prayer) or not, to go about my daily business just to prove those terrorists wrong. The world doesn’t need to stop. Every year we go on, we prove them wrong. I guess what we have now, the ceremony at Ground Zero is kind of a compromise. But the day only stops for those involved, and not the bystanders, regular Americans.
Whenever I think of 9/11 though, I notice that it was a defining point in my life. I was in seventh grade in 2001. What came before that 9/11 was an elementary school – my childhood in a sense. And then starting at Boston Latin and having the towers fall only a few days later closed that chapter and opened a new one. Before I wasn’t very concerned with the world around me (what elementary school student is?) I remember the election of 2000 and just wishing they would pick somebody by the second week. I didn’t care who anymore. That was really the only big story I remember from elementary school, other then when Clinton got impeached, and I didn’t fully understand that. Afterwards, I was much more aware. Enduring Freedom, Shock and Awe/ Iraqi Freedom. The 2004 election. Even state issues like when the school ran out of paper. I can’t say how much of my increased awareness was from going to BLS and how much of it was just living in a post 9/11 world, but I know it was a combination of the two.
My earliest news related memory was actually the evening news in the summer of 91. I was 2 and a half. I remember a few seconds of a story on the First Gulf War. Now, I know that when I was watching it with my parents I had no idea what was going on then, but I do think it is, well almost amusing that I have that memory. I know a few third graders from church (We are both altar servers at St Francis de Sales Parish) and I realized this summer that they don’t know anything but a post 9/11 world. I find that almost fascinating because they probably don’t think about it now, but when they are older, like in high school or college, they would look back and realize how much it has shaped their lives, how much they’ll never know first hand, like the ‘good’ 90s – everything up to September 10th 2001 . All they ever know is the Bush Presidency, the two wars and now Obama.
Yes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are far away wars that the news media sometimes cover a lot, but now mostly don’t, but I see them as a links in a chain of events that started on 9/11. Bush asked to go into Afghanistan and we said yes. A year later he asked the same for Iraq and again we said yes (some lies were involved) Sometimes, it seems like the rough economic times are even connected to 9/11.
Now, I remember how Iraq was always in the news while Afghanistan was an afterthought. It seems like today, it’s reversed with the combat troops out of Iraq. Maybe we were never meant to be there in the first place, but once we were there, we ended up doing more good than harm.
I wish I could say the same for Afghanistan. It will be nine years come October 7th. Almost as long as American involvement in Vietnam. Let’s hope it doesn’t become longer.