Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Forty-Two: 10 years later….a 9/11 introspective

On the very bright and clear Tuesday morning of September 11th, 2001, I was headed to convocation at Delaware State University, to signal the official start to the school year, which would be my sophomore year. Being a member in the concert band, we all just figured it would be just another morning performance, and then we’d be going to class as usual.

Then, history decided to intervene.

Somewhere during the end of the ceremony, we were all told something we thought would never happen in America; that buildings in New York – the Twin Towers – were attacked and fell, and that someone flew a plane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

WHAT?! How could this….BE??

I guess my reaction upon seeing the scenes provided by CNN in the café after convocation ended was the initial reaction that pretty much everyone else had.

Shock. Bewilderment. Disbelief.

Followed by horror, fear, and widespread panic.

Little did we know, but the “future” of America that we always talked about in the 20th century had begun. Except there were no flying cars, robot maids, or one-course meals like we saw for years in The Jetsons. It was this. The nation in tears, the world on pause, and the country pretty much on edge.

America, for the first time in its history, had been attacked by a foreign entity on its soil. That freaked everyone out enough, but it happened in the epicenter of not only the cultural population of New York, but the business center of the modern free world. Services were on hold for several days to absorb the tragedy and mourn those who were victim to it. Sporting events were cancelled for a week out to let everyone understand just how serious this was.

However, what’s important about 9/11 is not only the horrible event that happened on it, but the aftermath – both immediate and long-term – effects of it.

Well, as we all know, this act lead to war….LOTS of war. Two of them that America personally decided to lead up. Since then, tens of thousands of American troops have died defending their freedom, the country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars, and a nation that once seemed invincible had been broadcasted to the world the proverbial first chink in the armor.

As the decade went on, some of America’s changes were directly a result of the WTC attack: security in airports felt more checking through fortresses (I know firsthand; the band flew to San Diego, CA for a game just two months after 9/11….unpleasant is an understatement of that airport experience), the Patriot Act has been established to ensure America would never endure this again, and the general psyche of Americans have changed. Unfortunately, for our Middle Eastern-oriented Americans, they are constantly reminded – as well as blamed, persecuted, and sought out – of the horrible events of that day.

While nationalism has come to the general forefront in American life in the last decade, those who practice the religion that is also worshipped by the group responsible for attacking this country has faced near segregation-levels of prejudice. Hate attacks, mosque defacement, out casting those with that decent and ridicule has befallen some of our fellow countrymen, and have pretty made them choose between their God and their country, which is something that was pretty much outlawed on the founding of this nation. Even in helping to heal this country has proved extraordinarily difficult to do, with the country pretty much wanting the mosque near “Ground Zero” to be nowhere near the spot where our future was changed.

Tomorrow will mark the 10th year remembrance of this attack. We will reflect, but we also have to accept EVERYTHING that has come with this, so we can continue to move on. I’m aware that some measure of justice has been extracted with the killing of Osama bin Laden, leader of the “Al-Qaeda” organization responsible for this horrific attack a few months ago, and that many of the co-conspirators of 9/11 have been caught, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to live the rest of their lives in federal prison, that’s only a minor role in getting this nation’s “swag” back. Yes, there will be honor of those that were taken away from us; yes, we will continue to cheer for the heroes who’ve sacrificed their own lives to help those that were trapped in the rubble and risked their own lives to rescue survivors; yes, the nation’s flag will fly in pretty much every major gathering in this country as we will remind ourselves that we are one of the strongest nations on Earth, and we have endured and will continue to persevere. However, there is still much work to be done to get this country back to the future we were promised many moons ago.

Look, I realize that for most of my peers in this generation, patriotism isn’t one of our strongest suits. In fact, most of the people I know in my age range pretty much think America is corrupt, elistist-driven, moraless, and headed for a massive collapse if things keep going the way they are. But, despite all of this, we still care about this country and the welfare (for the most part) of ALL Americans who live here. After all: unofficially for us, 9/11 can be called our generation’s “defining” moment, just as Pearl Harbor was to the youth who lived through World War II, or just as Vietnam helped define the 70s generation, or the Berlin Wall finally coming down and the Cold War between USA and the Soviet Union help tale the tale of 80s youth. For the last 10 years, we ‘ve seen a lot and experience some pretty amazing things on both sides of the spectrum – a black man becoming president of these United States, live revolutions in African countries, natural disasters both in America and abroad, technology rapidly evolving and bringing us new ideas to improve our lives….NONE of which have hit more personally than this.

That was a day that will burn in our memories not only for the rest our lives, but will seemingly live forever in American history. And to properly respect that, we will always remember those lost.




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