Those who lived through the historical events on September 11th, 2001 will always remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news of the attacks on America. The feelings we experienced will be forever ingrained in our minds as if they happened yesterday.
Like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassination on John F. Kennedy, Sept. 11, 2001 was a pivotal day which would define the history of our nation. But unlike September 11th, the 10th and 12th of September 2001 are also important days to remember.
Sept. 10, 2001 was the last “normal” day for America.
We were living our lives, just as we are now, but we had an innocence we’ll never be able to reclaim. There were terrorists and wars in other parts of the world, but we felt safe here at home. There was no thought of airplanes flying into buildings. Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were far from household names.
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t yet exist. There were no body scanners at the airport, our phones weren’t tapped and we could walk down the streets of a city without being watched by surveillance cameras on every corner.
September 11th, 2001 changed us a society.
While 9/11 was a tragic moment in history, it also united us as a nation. When the towers fell, the rescue and recovery became a matter of people helping people. The social problems and prejudices we faced were momentarily put aside. There was no black, white, Asian or Hispanic. It didn’t matter if you were Christian, Jewish or an Atheist. It didn’t matter if you were straight or gay. We came together to help each other not just as a nation, but as communities.
The attacks of 9/11 brought us together for at least one day in our history. We held our loved ones closer. We cared more. We displayed kindness and human decency. Everyone had differing opinions, backgrounds and motivations, but on September 12th we moved forward together. We were united as a nation.
It’s sad how soon America forgot what September 10th and the 12th were like.
Other than seeing a few images of airplanes flying into buildings, most young people have no idea how drastically different the world is now compared to what we had in 2001. There were no I-Pads or iPhones because “smart” phones didn’t exist yet. We didn’t even have cameras on our phones then. Most homes still had dial-up internet. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube. There was no Xbox or Wii.
We went about our lives with minimal cares or worries prior to 9/11. The world was far from perfect, but we believed global problems would never affect us here at home. Life wasn’t necessarily “better” on that day 18 years ago, but we were innocent.
Or maybe we were naïve.
Whatever it was, but lived in a different state of mind. No one could have ever imagined the world we live in now, nor could we have planned for it. No one could have imagined the freedoms we would sacrifice on that September morning. No one could have imagined how it would change everything about us.
Now we’re constantly trying to regain the sense of security taken from us on 9/11. We’re forced to live with fear of the unknown threats constantly lurking around us. We live in a state of alertness waiting and wondering where the next tragedy will happen.
This is our new normal, but it’s all the younger generation has ever known.
While I hope we can one day return to the innocence we once knew, I know it’s not realistic to think we ever will. We just need to make the best of what we’ve got.
As you take a moment to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11, don’t forget to think about your own life. Appreciate what you have and cherish every moment, because as we found out on that September morning in 2001, life as we know it can change in the blink of an eye.
(This post is a combination of other articles I’ve written over the years on 9/11).
Marty is a freelance writer based in Kansas City
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