five years later: my unchanged life

11 09 2006

It’s kind of hard to imagine that one of the biggest historical events of my lifetime has left my life virtually unchanged. Five years ago, I was sitting in chemistry class during my junior year of high school when I learned that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I didn’t suspect terrorism, just some sort of pilot error.

But what has changed in the past five years? I go through more security in the airports now, removing my shoes and throwing out my coffee. To be honest, this is the only change. Yes, I hear more news about terrorism and I see the national alert change colors, but that doesn’t really affect me. I wonder as much as the next thinking man about whether the American government is using the fear of a terror attack to scare us into supporting the war on terror.

So here we are, September 11, 2006. The memory of the horrific day is fading. There were only a few ads in the Wall Street Journal and the USA Today that mentioned the attacks.  In fact, there is nothing going on today that would remind me that five years ago, something happened.

Maybe this is like Pearl Harbor.  I don’t think that many people could even tell you that the attack on Pearl Harbor was on December 7, 1941.  That was event that definitely change lives.  So what does that mean?  Does it mean that we aren’t patriotic?

Here’s what I’ve done today:

  • Class
  • Breakfast (read the WSJ and the USA Today)
  • Class
  • Replied to email
  • Lunch
  • Bought a textbook

These activities are just like any normal day.  My life is unchanged from September 10, 2001 to today.  Many lives are changed:  the widows, the orphans, the family members of the deceased.  But what about the rest of us?

I remember watching in disbelief as the towers fell.  It felt like a movie and I felt so far away.  Even a few days ago, I saw that they had released more phone calls from that day.  I listened to one and thought back.  I think back to the unity Americans felt that today and the solidarity as the rest of the world stood with us.  I remember the tears as Americans were rocked into recognizing the reality that we were not as strong as we thought and that we were not an island, far away from the terrorists.

In the next few days, President Bush declared war on terror.  Congress agreed.  Everyone admitted that it was going to be a long fight, but America wanted vengeance and wanted to see democracy spread.  But as the dust settled and the rubble cleared, soldiers began to fall.  Instead of falling buildings, we saw fallen soldiers.  Somehow, in the sadness of those lives lost, we didn’t remember the fervor of September 12.  I don’t care if you think we should still be in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It doesn’t matter what I think.  What matters is what we thought.  Did we think five years ago that it was the answer?  And if you honestly answer that and the answer is yes, then you need to support that decision, regardless of how you feel about it now.  Instead of losing the reasons why we did or did not support it in our patriotic fever, we need to consider how we felt that day.  Stand by your decision and work to see it to fruition, whether you want troops overseas or not.  Stick by the conviction you felt on September 12, 2001.

It was said in 2001 that “We Will Not Forget”.  We have forgotten.


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