Editorial: Lesson from 9/11 define our generation

By on September 14, 2011

The dust has settled. The tears have dried. The streets in New York City and Washington, D.C. are cleared of black and white police cruisers, on-lookers and debris.

But now, ten years after airborne, human missiles crumbled the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and our sense of security, there’s still red in our eyes.

Why?

Many of us having just started third, fourth or fifth grade at the time, our parents and teachers protected most of us from the terrible news flowing out of every radio, television and newspaper. But they couldn’t protect us from the consequences. We may have been young, but the lessons we learned after Sept. 11, 2001 made us grow up. Fast.

We learned to be good little patriots, to wear our American flag lapel pins and only buy products stamped “made in the U.S.A.” We learned to be cautious
and diligent, and to look up when we heard the sound of jet planes overhead.

Others learned about intolerance, when suddenly shunned by their classmates because their skin was tan, like the bad men on T.V. Some learned to honor the military – some at the cost of an older sibling or parent.

Ours was supposed to be a warless generation. The few Middle Eastern skirmishes we watched on television from the comfort of our living rooms were nothing compared to the wars our parents and grandparents had seen and fought  rst hand. Comparatively speaking, there was peace.

And when that peace was shattered, we raised our  sts and declared war on terror.

The youth of America laced their boots tight against the desert sands, and marched to slake our country’s thirst for blood. And they won.  ey won many times, in fact.

Mirroring our parents, we cheered “mission accomplished,” when Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq in 2003. We claimed victory with the fall of each new Taliban leader, all of them leading up to the death of Osama Bin Laden earlier this year.

But even his death wasn’t enough to drain the red from our eyes. It couldn’t undo what had been done.

How have we as a nation spent these past ten years?

Americans made questionably effective advancements in the fight against terrorism by adding “U.S.A.” to every hit song, and by eating all of our “freedom fries.” But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the big stuff.

We stood together, we cried on each other’s shoulders and now, one decade later, we’re working toward closure.

Whether or not we ever get, well, time will tell.

Photo: Nathan Gardener/The Louisville Cardinal

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