It’s been ten years. 3,652 Days. 87, 648 hours. 5,258,880 minutes. Have the wounds healed? How have people dealt with the pain of the deaths of 2,753 Americans? In what way has the treatment of firemen and policemen changed, after 343 New York firefighters and 60 New York City police officers died to save others? How have you changed? What does it mean?
You can argue politics on the issue all day long, but in the end it does not matter whether conservatives or liberals are correct. On September 11th, 2001, at 8:46 A.M. Eastern Time, the world we were living in changed. The first of four hijacked planes hit its target, the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City; at 9:03AM, a plane hit the south tower. People began to pay attention; news stations began round- the-clock coverage.
My seventh grade math teacher, Mr. Ciezadlo, a normally kind man with a terrible toupee, somberly turned on the television to a news station, sat down at his desk, and placed his hands on his head without saying a word. Thirty-four minutes later, a plane hit the side of the Pentagon. My world changed forever. Everyone’s world changed forever. However, despite promises to never forget September 11th, we have. There are no visible wounds left on the surface of our country.
I have been to Ground Zero in New York City. The construction on Freedom Tower, which will stand in place of the towers, is coming along smoothly. I have been on a tour of the Pentagon. The only noticeable mark is different color bricks at the point the plane penetrated furthest. There is a scarcely visited memorial to the 168 who died in the attack on the Pentagon, but I actually know people that could see that massive building from their apartment windows who did not realize its significance, that a plane had hit it.
We may still be scared of it happening again, but Americans have short historical memories, and we are not sufficiently reflective of that day. I know how my life has changed. I am a political science major who has recently returned from a government internship in Washington, D.C. I lived walking distance from the Pentagon for nearly seven months. As I write I am listening to the political rock band Rise Against (my favorite). And after I graduate in the spring, I plan to move to D.C. in order to secure a job and a prospective career dedicated, in some way, to making sure no more Americans loose their lives in such an unfair way.
All that those who died that day were guilty of was going to work. I still cringe and turn away at video footage of nameless people jumping from the top stories of the World Trade Center. This cannot happen again. But ten years later, we all have a choice. I choose to deal with September 11th in strange way; I spend a large amount of my time knowing in the back of my mind that my major in school, my career path, and even my taste in music were all altered drastically by the deaths of those people. This is probably not healthy. Many people go about their life not reflecting on the attacks unless they are brought up by the news or by some fanatic like me.
And this is okay most days. But it is not okay this Sunday. It has been ten years. I urge you to thank a veteran. I urge you to sit, and ponder how 9/11 affected you. Maybe it did not. Maybe you were too young, or too unexposed. Maybe you did not care. But I want you to know that what we have in America is not something to take for granted. Being an American citizen is about having what you want within grasp. It is about having the highest goals set, and having a legitimate chance at obtaining them.
As we know, it is about freedom. And, ten years ago, our freedom was taken away through fear, if only for a short time. And so we must ever forget the firefighters, soldiers, and policemen who died trying to maintain freedom that day. Never forget September 11th. I sure can’t.