9/11 always gives me pause. Like it does for so many others, I think it’s one of the few times where I have that chilling feeling of being “frozen” in time — captured and encapsulated within a very distinct sort of memory of pointed clarity reserved for those moments that represent something life- and value- defining.
for me, 9/11/2001 happened during my junior year of high school. in what i thought would be just another day of school, i watched the small tv in the kitchen as i ate the pb&j sandwich my dad had left on the counter for me. it was one of those old tvs on its final sprints out which you had to adjust every so often to cut through the static, but that morning, it clearly broadcast the bewildered and concerned voice of the ktla 5 news anchor that a plane had just hit the world trade center in new york city. the rest of the day proceeded in slow motion, with teachers whose attention was progressively turned towards what was happening on the east coast, as they struggled to intersperse those eerily quiet periods with words that tried to make sense of what was taking place.
at the time, i didn’t really know what to think — i didn’t have any close friends or relatives that lived on the east coast then, but i knew it was something that would fundamentally change the fabric of this country. i remember going home that evening with those questions of why, how, and feeling a profound sense of sadness and perplexity. at 15, i had “seen” enough of the world to understand the gravity of the situation and to appreciate what it meant to be “american”, but i was still too young to grasp the full implications of the events of that day. i think for many of us who went through our high school years during that time, it was the first time that we, in the US, were personally confronted with a national tragedy of that magnitude and scale, and it continues to be that shared moment we can all recall in clarity the events and thoughts of that day.
in the last ten years since 9/11, our nation has undergone momentous change. we have entered one war, elected the first african-american president, experienced the dawning of a communications revolution, and are in the midst of one of the most volatile economic times our nation has experienced. we have seen governments questioned and regimes crumble, and even as our worlds becoming increasingly intertwined, we are continuously reminded of the need to stay united, to come together in mutual understanding and respect.
9/11 is a day that will continue to haunt all of us for years and history books to come. but the story of its legacy is one that we have the opportunity to still write. aside from a war that has waged on for the last decade, what will be the story of the legacy of 9/11? especially as we approach the 2012 election season, what will be the stories that we will carry with us? 9/11 brought us together as a nation, and as a global community. as we continue in an era of growing multiculturalism and globalization, let us be reminded that it is in our unity that we have always found strength and while we must never forget our values, we cannot let the dogma of our fears define the course of our nation and the actions we undertake.
9/11/2001 – may we never forget.