Many of ACU’s current undergraduate students weren’t even 10 years old when the horrific events of Sept. 11 took place. Those of us who were entering the age of social awareness will never forget where we were when the news struck.
Those who didn’t immediately understand the impact of the attacks felt the lingering effects. The magnitute and emotions that last vary.
The nation rallied together at a time when unity mattered most. American flags flew high above households in every neighborhood. Those who hadn’t stepped foot in a church since the VBS of their youth ernestly prayed. Even public schools that didn’t allow prayer gave way to a “moment of silence.”
Looking back at the video footage of the planes slamming into the World Trade Centers evokes emotion each time it’s seen. Now, the images of people jumping from skyscrapers and smoke filling the New York air hits closer to home than the day they played constantly on television.
But along with the new-found patriotism that Sept. 11 instilled in our generation was a prejudice many of us try to ignore. The Middle East was – and remains – largely a mystery to many Americans. The attacks were the only introduction to the Islamic faith for many Americans, young and old. Suddenly Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were household names, and they weren’t just the bad guys. In our young minds they were the only representations of Islam. The uneasiness of travelers perpetuates this skewed view when sitting next to someone of Middle Eastern decent on a flight, or watching them carry a suitcase into the terminal.
The convenience and allure of airline travel is gone. The TSA herds passengers onto planes like cattle. Years after the attacks, the time needed to go through security checkpoints, even on a trip from DFW to Houston, is equal to the time the plane is in the air.
Passengers can’t carry aboard half of the items once allowed. In the days following Sept. 11 garbage cans at airports quickly filled with expensive gifts meant for friends and family. Every bottle of wine, souvenir sword and pair of fingernail clippers became a threat to national security.
Now, one decade after more than 2,000 lives were lost, and 1,717 families never received the remains of their loved ones, 9/11 remains the single most defining historical event for most students at ACU.
Our childhoods were forged in the wake of 9/11. Faculty members and other adults see this as a watershed moment but, 9/11 marks the beginning of our political and world conciousness. Everything we have seen is viewed through the prism of Sept. 11.
It is the event we first remember where we were, and that will not change. We must recognize the impact this had on us.