Sunday, September 11, 2011


The day that changed America.

I can't believe that it has been 10 years already. I was just thinking about that, 10 years ago since I started my last 2nd year of college. I can't believe it has been that long.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard that America had been attacked -- I was going through the Physics building at U of MN when my friend G stopped and told me that the twin towers had been attacked in NYC, and people were suspecting Muslim terrorists. My friend G is an Arab-American, a non-practicing seik (a non-Muslim religious group), and he was worried about backlash on campus towards Arabs, Muslims, and others.

[By this time, I had a group of friends that I hung out with at school that were Muslim. I hung out with this group, in part because aside from being a very neat group of individuals -- the way that they practice their religion is not so different from the way that I practice my religion (no drinking, no dancing, conservative dress mostly, etc.), so I felt comfortable around them. Once I realized that the news was real, and America had indeed been attacked on its own soil... I worried about their safety (thankfully, nothing happened ever while I was in school).]

Anyway, at first I did not believe him, disbelief and shock tempered my reaction. However, I then went to join him and many others in the journalism building to watch the news. It was there I saw my friend, Thelma -- a NYC native who had dinner atop the Twin Towers not even a week prior to the attack. I know that she worried about people she knew that could be in those Towers and who perhaps perished on that day. Being around her, made it feel like I knew people and had a connection to the biggest city in the nation.

After I went home, I went to the neighbor's (to babysit for the evening so they could go to memorial services for those that died in the attack) The dad worked in finance, and his brother worked for the financial firm hit hardest by the attacks. Thankfully, his brother had stepped out to get a coffee just before the airplane hit the tower. However, the dad received many emails from those people trapped above where the plane hit and who said good-bye that day. Through their pain, I realized further that though I lived far away from NYC and Washington DC -- the effects of the loss of life on that day were not limited to the East Coast.

About 2 months after 9-11, I visited NYC for a debate tournament at Columbia University. I smelt the acrid air from the still smoldering buildings, and saw the bits of office trash still in the street. Walking around, I saw the memorials outside the firestations -- collections of candles and photographs, commemorating those firefighters that went into the buildings as many were rushing out and never made it back home. And, again it hit me -- America lost a lot that day.

I have since traveled, not back to NYC, but elsewhere. Reminders of 9-11 are seen in the increased airport security, things related to both the Iraqi War and Afganistan war in both located here and in other countries. Joining the armed services is no longer just a good way to get college paid for, it now involves actual risk and likely deployment. Things have certainly changed since that day. The day that the facade of our safety was shattered, and America was rallied to fight a nebulous enemy of terrorism at home and abroad.

Thinking of and remembering all those that lost their life that day or since in either war, and all of their friends/families/loved ones.

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