9/11: Five Years Gone but Never Forgotten

Deena Mueller

Sitting in the contest gym at Lundahl Middle School wearing my purple P.E. uniform: that’s where I was at 9:03 on September 11, 2001. I know you all remember where you were. The terrorist attack on our country was one of the most memorable events in most of our lives.

Despite the fact that the attack took place five years ago, I remember everything. I remember the images of the Twin Towers being struck and imploding. I remember the devastation and despair from people at ground zero. An especially gut wrenching sign carried by a young woman that said, “Have you seen my fianc?ee? He worked on the 104th floor,” has haunted my memories of that day ever since. Last May, watching the movie, United 93, I relived all those suppressed emotions from that day five years ago. I recall feeling shocked, sad, angry and fearful, all at the same time.

However, over the past few years, those feelings have worn off. Most of America has moved on. Sure, we all still remembered to wear a red, white and blue ribbons every September 11, but I rarely think about what had happened that day and the consequences it brought to our country. September 11 radically changed the course of American foreign policy and civil liberties for years and maybe decades to come.

Because of what happened to us that day, we’ve begun wars in two nations: Afghanistan, where we justifiably destroyed the regime that helped plan, train and foster the attack on America; and Iraq, which we attacked for ambiguous reasons amidst an intelligence scandal surrounding some link between Sadaam Hussein and Al-Qaeda (and oil). The tragic thing is that we have now lost as many US military men in Iraq as Americans killed during the terrorist attacks.

Because of what happened that day and the way our government dealt with military proceedings since, we’ve polarized our country into warring political factions. Legislations are tied up in a gridlock of red and blue politics. The unity demonstrated by all members of this country in the weeks following 9/11, has made a completely negative turnaround.

Because of what happened that day, vast numbers of Reserve and National Guard troops are needed abroad to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Therefore, there are no soldiers at home. When we really needed the National Guard, during and after Hurricane Katrina, it was not easily available and it was not well equipped.

Because of what happened that day, we lost many personal freedoms. Arriving to the airport an extra 90 minutes early and having my toe nail clippers confiscated, while my sneakers shift through an X-ray machine was never an inconvenience I cared about. In the name of safety, I complied. Then there was the Patriot Act, which we all gladly abided by during the months immediately following the attacks. Then we woke up, realizing that several years had passed, and the Patriot Act was still in effect. Our government could legally obtain a list of movies we rented at the local Blockbuster. (Not that I really care whether the CIA knows that I have a Pauly Shore movie fetish, but such intrusions are too “Big Brother” to be tolerated in a country that is trying to be the beacon light of democracy for the rest of the world.)

My point in rehashing all this information is not to incite you with anger and protest the War in Iraq or the Patriot Act. I’m just trying to prove that what happened five years ago is still affecting our lives. September 11th was a big deal, and we will still be feeling impacts of it for the rest of the decade and probably our lives. Maybe I’m overly patriotic, but it bothers me when people act like they don’t care about what happened, as if it is old news. Our nation was attacked, and our fellow citizens died. We should still be upset when thinking back on the day’s events. We should still feel sorrow for the families that were torn apart by this tragedy and the consequent wars in the Middle East. Most of all, we should never forget 9/11.