Today, September 11, 2011, marks the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It is a day we all come together to remember. And mourn.
Moments of silence are being organized around the country. The NFL held several tributes before today’s games. There are countless posts on Facebook dedicated to that fateful day ten years ago. Everyone appears to remember the exact place they were when the planes crashed.
My parents said it’s the same for those alive in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. These kinds of national tragedies create a collective cultural memory. If asked, “Where were you when…” we recall without fail.
I was in second period AP US History when someone told me about the first crash. Our whole class was in an uproar, wanting to know what happened. I’ll never forget that feeling of panic we all experienced: Was it an accident? Why did the plane crash? Our teacher Ms. Hayley abandoned our lesson for the day and turned on the television so we could watch the news. It was in the upper right hand corner of the room, and we all abandoned our seats (I was in the second row on the left, fourth seat back) to crowd around it. There we watched the footage of the plane crashes, and the collapse of the World Trade Center.
One of the most shocking and violent moments in US history, the reverberations of those terrorist attacks still haunt us today. The long term financial and health effects. The destruction of an architectural landmark and symbol of national economic strength. The heightened fear – something we face every time we step foot into a US airport. A radical shift in foreign policy. War.
It still sometimes shocks me to think of how many victims one single day can yield. The lives of 2,977 innocents were lost, but the number left suffering cannot be calculated. I think of those killed on September 11th, and their surviving loved ones. And of all the soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan in our counter “War on Terror”, many of whom were killed or returned to face PTSD and other anguishes. And as much as it might be overshadowed today while we mourn our own American losses, I cannot forget the deaths of all the innocent Iraqi and Afghan civilians either.
September 11, 2001 was a day of terror and sorrow. We've rebuilt and reshaped and redefined. But we will never forget.