By Editorial Staff
By Editorial Staff
Older Americans have always talked about where they were when Pearl Harbor was attacked, on D-Day or the day President John Kennedy was shot.
However, younger generations were fortunate enough to have been spared such tragic national remembrances; until Sept. 11, 2001.
That day became their Pearl Harbor. Everyone has stories about where they were on 9/11. And like their predecessors, this generation’s life was irreparably changed by that fateful day.
In the days immediately following the attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., life took on new meaning for young Americans.
The new normal made it clear in a tragically horrific way that events on the other side of the globe could have an impact on their everyday lives.
They were now living in a world that the rest of the globe was all too familiar with. The rules had changed; safety and security were no longer sure things.
In the 10 years since 9/11, young people have had to learn to live with increased suspicion against certain religious groups, two ongoing wars in the Middle East, increased security at airports, major arenas, stadiums and theme parks and several botched attacks that reminds them it could happen again at any moment.
However, there was a side effect that no one had expected.
Previously apathetic and uninformed high school and college aged Americans became more internationally and politically aware, they created and participated in public service organizations, joined law enforcement and fire departments, and many of them enlisted in the United States military.
Not since World War II has one generation’s lives been changed so drastically, so fast.
Besides the massive loss of life, perhaps the loss of innocence for an entire generation is the saddest outcome from Sept. 11.
Twenty-year-olds who were children when the towers fell will never know a world where politicians aren’t screaming at each other on television 24/7 or someone’s patriotism is questioned for speaking their mind.
For a lot of young people, there was never a life where people weren’t suspicious of their neighbors, airport security didn’t take hours to get through and the United States wasn’t constantly at war with someone.
In the coming weeks there will be a lot of specials, interviews and documentaries remembering that fateful day.
However, instead of replaying footage of the towers falling and the streets filling with devastation, perhaps what people should remember is that in the 10 years since, countless children have grown up without parents who were lost that day.
Or maybe, news channels should remember that many of those children are now young adults who have carried the burden of that day with them into the battlefield, as the wars that resulted from that day have had some of the youngest veterans in U.S. history.
For this generation, Sept. 11 will always be remembered as the day their world became a much smaller, less innocent place.