I was in the second grade when the planes crashed. I thought it was sad, but it didn’t effect me much, and I forgot it almost as soon as I’d heard it. I remember my biological father, who lived in New York at the time, calling to say he was okay, and rushing him off of the phone because that was the day that Kim Possible premiered on Disney. For months later, I heard about this day on the radio and saw it on the news, and in all honesty, I didn’t know why we were still talking about it.
I don’t beat myself up over my ignorance at the time, because I was a child, but it’s disheartening to me that so many grown Americans have an attitude of indifference towards 9/11. So many grown Americans believe that because it was a one time occurrence and that so few people died (in comparison to those that die in terrorist attacks in the Middle East), that 9/11 doesn’t matter. Some even believe that because of the involvement of the US in the Middle East, 9/11 is justified.
The United States clearly has a part to play in the chaos abroad, but the world is not as black and white as America-haters would like you to think. As much as I encourage informed, critical discussion of America’s past and present, I cannot accept the reduction of the land of my forefathers- the land that made me who I am- into its shortcomings.
On September eleventh, the Pentagon, the Twin Towers and the intended location of Flight 93 were not their targets. Their target was America in its entirety. They did not want to attack three locations, but a nation and everything she stood for. Not just a government, not just a military, not just a policy, but a culture, a heritage and a way of life. They sought to desecrate the infrastructure of the American identity. And to equate American identity with greed and imperialism is just as backwards as equating a religion of over a billion to the actions of a handful of radicals.
I don’t deny or doubt some of the atrocities that America has committed abroad. I am genuinely sorry for dramatic increase of Islamophobia in this country post 9/11. I grieve for the lives that have been lost to terrorism, regardless of their origin.
But 9/11 is not and never will be something to forget or make light of. It will never be an appropriate punch line and it will never cease to be worthy of reflection or mourning.