I remember being in middle school and driving by NYC on a class trip to Washington, D.C. I stared at the twin towers trying to fathom the size of them. They didn't look that big, but I knew they were. At that moment I felt awe for humanity- what humans were able to accomplish. Honestly, though, I also felt a little disgusted at Manhattan- all those people working, shitting, and living their lives on top of one another. Don't get my wrong, it didn't stop my little heart from wanting to live there rather than boring old Vermont.
In fall 2001 I was a junior in high school. I had a free period and was in the student lounge as the first plane hitting the north tower was being reported on the news. Everyone's faces around me were in complete shock. As the second plane hit the south tower on live TV one girl started crying. As a country we had never experienced anything like this before- so safe were our borders. It didn't feel real. A little later in the day we had an all school assembly. What I remember specifically was one teacher from the middle east (Pakistan, maybe?) who got up and told us that we were spoiled in safety and stuff like this happened all the time where she was from and it wasn't that big of a deal. I remember agreeing with her (naturally the administration made her apologize a little while later).
This event which was formative for much of government policy for my life is now something taught in history class. Most kids in school today weren't even born when they occurred. I can't help but wonder what these kids think as they learn about them. These kids who have grown up in fear of terrorism and in the shadow of 2 conflicts claiming American lives. Including the 19 hijackers less than 3000 people died as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Flights were grounded and American airspace was empty. The shock for me came when we watched the televised invasion of Afghanistan a few weeks later (despite the fact that the majority of attackers were Saudi Arabians... and none were Afghani) .
As of last month there have been almost 3,500 coalition casualties as a result of the war in Afghanistan (this does not include opposing forces or citizens). And what a coalition it is! 36 countries came together to avenge the US citizens murdered in (mostly) New York that fateful September day. What have we accomplished in these nearly 20 years? What is the legacy of 9/11?
In college my friends temporarily hung a banner from my balcony that said "FIGHTING FOR PEACE IS LIKE FUCKING FOR VIRGINITY". More countries are falling into civil war in the Middle East as a result as our constant intervention. American citizens are still dying in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria. Oh, and forget about civilian deaths because those numbers are in the hundreds of thousands but we aren't really counting.
When I see "9/11 Remember" social media posts I remember the relative peace of the 90s and how this day in history marks the turning point where we pretty much gave the government carte blanche to fight the abstract idea of "terrorism". I pray for peace.
Kelsey enjoys researching and discussing. These posts are based on her research and are open for discussion! Enjoy! (For the record the credit for the title goes to one of Kelsey's favorite authors: Douglas Adams).