9/11 changed my life and the world

Posted by on September 5, 2011 at 10:25 am.

We’re less than a week away from the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I expect to see special TV programming, and special issues of magazines and sections in newspapers. The media may choose to dwell on compelling images from 2001, or outlets may seek new and less controversial images for their audiences. I don’t know what to expect.

September 11 will be a strange day for me. It won’t be especially difficult, as I didn’t experience the loss of loved ones and I wasn’t directly affected by the actual attacks. Yet the day will be unique simply because I was coming of age just as the attacks happened and changed the world forever. I changed as the world did.

I was 14 at the time. I remember hopping out of the shower and rushing to my bedroom to gather my belongings for school, then stopping to see my mother glued to the TV in the living room. She was speechless. Images of an airplane flying into a World Trade Center tower were repeatedly playing on the television. Someone had called her only a few moments before I walked into the room to tell her about what happened.

We didn’t have any lessons during classes on that day. We all watched the news in every class; teachers and students alike. For some classes, we didn’t have any lesson plans for the week.

But lesson plans changed in other classes. For my geography class, we focused on a special section devoted to Middle Eastern conflicts, and the root of the formation of the Mujahideen and Al-Qaeda. These were topics never addressed in a Goreville High School classroom prior to the September 11 attacks.

The day also set the national dialogue for the next decade. The United States entered three wars with claims of improving national security. Presidents were elected or not elected because of those wars. Trillions of dollars have been spent to kill thousands (some estimates note hundreds of thousands) of people in the Middle East. The real aftermath of 9/11 continues to be defined and redefined each day the U.S. military operates in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

I also credit that day as the one that pushed me to become a journalist. My curiosity about the root of the attacks, and my desire to learn more, pushed me to pursue a career that let me constantly seek knowledge for a living. As I matured, my care for the political atmosphere grew. And the contrast, and my comprehension, of the real differences between life and death was amplified. 9/11 truly changed my life.

I wonder if other twentysomethings have similar stories to mine. How did 9/11 shape your life?

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