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9/11 - A Time To Reflect

Remember that during one of the nation's darkest hours, Americans and peace-loving people worldwide came together in support and solidarity.

Tribute in Light memorial next to the new One World Trade (2012). Anthony Quintano, Wikimedia Commons
Tribute in Light memorial next to the new One World Trade (2012). Anthony Quintano, Wikimedia Commons

9/11 is one of the darkest days that America and Americans have witnessed.

On that fateful day, nearly three thousand Americans lost their lives to a terrorist attack on American soil. For the first time in modern history, the mighty oceans flanking the nation and superlative military might that was the envy of the world were unable to keep terror at bay.

However, briefly, America witnessed first-hand the utter chaos wreaked by a surprise terrorist attack and what it means to live under the scare of constant threat. As clouds of smoke and dust rose to cover lower Manhattan, disbelief and fear spread worldwide. Celebrations over the successful felling of the Twin Towers in a few pockets of the world shocked and dismayed many in the country.

The unprecedented event evoked a sense of terror and insecurity in the attack’s immediate aftermath. The nation mourned those killed by the attack and paid respects to the many brave men and women who sacrificed their lives while trying to save those trapped in the steel skeletons of the twin towers. As the gravity of the situation sunk in, Americans mourned the sense of insulation, the taken-for-granted security, and the way of life that would change forever.

As the extent of the losses came into stark focus, grief gave way to anger. There were calls to avenge, to guarantee that such a horrendous act could never claim more American lives, that Americans would not have to live under the shadow of terrorist threats. The nation united to ensure the famed American freedom would be protected and passed down the generations.

To thwart further attacks, America launched its ‘war on terror.’ To extinguish the danger of deranged ideologists and disturbing ideologies, America sent troops to fight in foreign lands in inhospitable conditions and rugged terrains. Thousands more American men and women died to protect the Land of the free. Even today, some of those wars that started two decades ago are being waged.

A year and two decades hence, the day has become part of modern history, but its echoes remain. Scrutiny and security checks went up then and remained high. Distrust of those of a different faith or ideology has spread its tentacles far and wide. While a whole new generation only has second-hand knowledge of the incident, they may never enjoy the unchallenged security and freedoms of the generations before.

Since that fateful day, Americans have scattered again, fragmented by narrow ideologies and polarized by seemingly insurmountable differences. The fear that united the country has dissipated, replaced by a sense of intolerance for any idea, ideology, or belief that differs from one’s own.

But anniversaries are marked for a reason – to remember and reflect. To grieve the dear and honor the brave we lost. To be grateful for all that was saved. To remember that in one of the darkest hours the nation has ever faced, Americans and people of the peace-loving world came together in support and solidarity.

The United States marks the 21st anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. In the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, four hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Infographic depicting the flights of American airlines flight 77, flight 93, 11, and 175 on september 11th 2001

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