18 Years – a Reflection of American Society Post-9/11

There is this memory I have of riding my bike with my sister and our friends on a Saturday morning past fields of grass on a long road in Yardley, Pennsylvania. I was 8 or 9 at the time, so I most definitely had a helmet fastened on top of my head, with snacks in that back pouch under my seat. I remember arriving at a construction sight and inquiring my friends on what was being built. They told me it was a 9/11 memorial. For a while, I thought that meant a 9-1-1 memorial for the police, and as I’ve gotten older, the sad irony was not lost to me that our number to call for help is the same three digits as the date of the most helpless day in modern American times. That construction site is now The Garden of Reflection, the official 9/11 memorial of Pennsylvania. It especially honors the 27 people from the town who died in the attacks. Each year, they hold a memorial 5k, golf tournament, and fundraising dinner for a remembrance endowment.

Last night on Twitter, right after midnight, #NeverForget and September 11 were top trends in the United States. At the time of the plane crashes, the flight number started trending. People re-share footage and stories and memories and pain as we relive a horrifying tragedy 18 years later.

I don’t have any memories of 9/11/2001 because I was 3 years old. It’s such an interesting point for those of us born in the late 1990s, as well as 2000 and 2001. We were alive during one of the most historic – albeit tragic- days in contemporary American history, but none of us really have any true memories of its occurrence. Even those who are two or three years older than us, though cognitively were able to remember the day, probably didn’t comprehend what was actually happening.

I say all this to say that despite not remembering anything from that day, I grew up in a post-9/11 society. We turn over our shoulders in hesitancy a bit more, we stand in long lines for airport security, and the fear of terrorism is ramped. There are so many consequences of that day that we are still living with and experiencing. I wanted to write this article in honor of those who died, of the heroes who stepped up that day, and the forgotten victims of this attack.

To be accurate in this article, I just went to google the fatality list. All I typed was the word ‘how’ and Google managed to fill in the rest, first try. The number is officially recorded at 2,977. North Tower, South Tower, Pentagon, Pennsylvania. I’ve visited Ground Zero in New York as well as the Pentagon memorial, and those experiences made me reflect on truly what was lost that day: families, friends, co-workers. Lost were second chances, new beginnings, futures, and heroes. So here, I want us to remember.

Remember the innocent victims in the towers, the Pentagon, and the planes, as well as their loved ones. Remember the heroes of Flight 93. Remember the first responders, the firefighters and the police officers and the paramedics who came to the rescue, and those who died being heroes. Remember the comradery of a nation trying to rebuild from brokenness.

And remember the forgotten victims of that day, the ones who lived in fear along with every other American, only to be profiled because of their religion or race and subsequently terrorized by fellow Americans in light of this attack. Remember neighbors turning on neighbors, the discrimination, the violence, and the murders of innocent people who were punished, not for being terrorists, but for their beliefs and appearances.

We can remember ALL of these victims in unity, as they do not out-merit one another. And we can honor them through compassion, through love and understanding, and through acceptance. We say #NeverForget, and I argue that also refers to the hate and fear incited in this nation as a result of these attacks. 9/11 brought us unity and patriotism but it also caused us to turn our backs on fellow Americans. It’s been 18 years, have we seen change?

The terrorism of 9/11 was done out of hate, and the best way to memorialize all those who suffered or died is to condemn that hate, to show it has no place in this nation.


2 thoughts on “18 Years – a Reflection of American Society Post-9/11

  1. sahawk1 says:

    Thank you for such a well written post. It is hard for those of us who were adults at the time to understand what our young children remember or feel like. You did s fantastic job.


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