Eight Years Later…
“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!”
— Todd Beamer, passenger on United Airlines Flight 93
September 11, 2001
So it’s been eight years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It’s crazy how time can fly, isn’t it? And even now, the whole thing feels so surreal. It was hard to believe it was happening, even while you were watching the towers fall over and over on CNN. I remember going on a field trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in sixth grade and marveling at just how tall the Twin Towers were. Three years later, they were gone.
The 9/11 attacks have become this generation’s JFK assassination, or the Martin Luther King assassination, or even Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Anyone who was alive and old enough to remember it can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened. It happened in my freshman year of high school. During my third period physical science class, the vice principal announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that we should probably turn on the news. My teacher decided against it and went on with business as usual. I remember thinking it was probably just a really freaky accident. Later I found out about the other planes, though I don’t remember how, and then during lunch we all watched CNN replaying the towers collapsing.
What really stuns me about the attacks is that as awful as they were… they could have been even worse. The plane that went down in rural Pennsylvania was headed for Washington too. Nobody knows what the hijackers’ target was, but it could have been the Capitol Building or the White House. Can you imagine what would have happened if that plane had reached its intended target? The passengers of United 93 saved us from an even bigger national tragedy.
Did anything good come out of all this? Yes. As tragic as the entire situation was for this country, we found the strength to come together and help each other through it. The States were United in a way I’d never seen before, and haven’t seen since. But if it takes billions of dollars of damage and thousands of lost human lives to completely unite this country again… well… then I hope I never see it happen again. It’s simply too much of a price to pay.
I leave you with perhaps the best summary of the tragedy of 9/11 and the triumph of this nation’s recovery that I’ve ever seen. As if I needed any more reasons to think that Jon Stewart is the man.
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