Understanding America after 9/11

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Is your life different today because of September 11?


An online chronicle reflecting the impact of September 11.

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YES
On September 11th as I drove to work in Washington, DC, I saw the plane just before it crashed into the Pentagon and witnessed the horrific explosion. This combined with my post office being shut down for Anthrax contamination and driving every day from work past armed trucks pointing machine guns at the road, my family and I decided we did not want to live like that anymore. I had an opportunity to come home to Minnesota to work and we decided to move. I no longer have nightmares of planes falling out of the sky and don't live with a low level constant state of anxiety. —Kim Motes, Plymouth, MN

YES
Certainly no one is unaffected. What I wonder about is what would we do and how would we react if similar attacks were carried out in other cities in the world. Would we have the same horrified reaction? My guess is no. I think that the lesson for the United States is to humble ourselves a little, share a little more what we have, our resources and our bounty with the poor of the world, and I think we would more certainly put an end to terrorism.

What if we waged war on terrorism by giving and sharing? If we followed the laws of nonviolence and returned hateful acts with love, rather quickly it would be obvious who needs to change. Has 9/11 changed my life? Yes, in the way that it has hardened my resolve to work for peace and justice — economic and other kinds — in my country. —Shaun Duvall, Alma, WI

YES
We all wake up in the morning with our troubled feelings, that something can happen to us. I used to take my trust for others for granted but, unfortunately, not anymore. —Ortenca Xhixha, Chicago, IL

YES
Like most Americans I knew little about Islam before 9/11. I have learned much about it since then. My conclusion is that violence and Islam are linked. The religion breeds violence. Contrary to most commentary I do not believe that Islamic terrorism is part of the fanatical extreme, [I believe] it is part of the religion itself. If people will not voluntarily become Muslims or embrace an Islamic life then it will be violently forced on others. I cannot look at a Muslim with trust any longer. —Bob Brown, Buffalo, NY

YES
My daily life hasn't changed that much but I have both new-found optimism and pessimism.

I am optimistic that our nation may have entered a period of introspection and maturation. Some of our childlike beliefs that have been masquerading as serious thought for the past forty years or so may be shed in the years to come. The ideas that no culture should be regarded as superior to another or that good and evil are merely matters of opinion surely went up in smoke with the 9/11 attacks. Similarly, the idea that we should try to understand mass murderers rather than stop them seems to be a na´ve recipe for national suicide.

I'm pessimistic that we may not learn the lessons of 9/11 soon enough to prevent future attacks on this country. Sadly, we Americans are often too forgiving and have very short memories. I'm also pessimistic that the responsible followers of Islam will not become sufficiently vocal in their condemnation of those who commit cold blooded mass murder in the name of God. —Bert Tol, Los Angeles, CA

YES
Yes, my Life has changed. My boyfriend has been gone all Summer training to be a Security Manager at the airport here in Syracuse. He's finally home but working 7 days a week to protect our citizens. I don't get to see him much and it is because of 9/11. But something had to be done to protect us and I am very proud of him. And the Enya and the World Trade Center Tribute is so good. It means a lot to me because my boyfriend and I had listened to this song a few years ago when we first met and this was our song and they played this tribute to the World Trade Center. Now my boyfriend is a manager of the security screeners at Hancock Airport protecting our citizens. How odd that our song and this tragedy and him would all come together like this. —Charlene Badgley, Cicero, NY

YES
Watching my students in the library that morning made me so sad — their lives would never be the same. Their faces were mostly blank while watching the televisions we had setup for all to see the event unfold. My generation had not been through anything like this (our parents had been through pearl harbor) but these high school kids were well removed from anything even remotely like this. The anniversary will be an interesting day to see what difference the year has made on these kids.

On another note, I was riding my horse the night after the attack and the airport (Denver International Airport) nearby the ranch where I board my horse was dark with absolutely no plane noise. It transported me back to when the prairie near Denver was still the prairie and the city lights [were] way in the distance. I had a very reflective twilight ride that evening. —Gary Martyn, Denver, CO

YES
Since 9/11, I have been outraged not only by the extremists who will kill in the name of their religion, but also by our own country's arrogance.

I am amazed that so many people: friends, family, and co-workers alike, feel that the loss that occurred was an American loss and not a global loss. What happened to mourning the loss of life? When did Patriotism replace Humanism, and how did we allow that to happen? I'm so tired of hearing only how many "Americans" were killed, and not a count of human loss. It makes me feel ashamed when the I see clips of the rest of the world mourning the American attacks, but never seeing America reciprocating its collective grief for the thousands of non-Americans killed every year. Based purely on this, the attacks on 9/11 are not surprising in the least, only that they haven't happened sooner. I am not anti-American but I am pro-human, and will be ever-vigilant in monitoring my own behavior. —Hilary Griffin, Los Angeles, CA

YES
My life is somewhat different since this terrible morning of September 11 but the difference is subtle; it affects me directly with small annoyances like airport travel and related restrictions.

But the fallout of this event is so much greater. Most people here think only how it affects them within the borders of the U.S. But really what happened affects people all over the world. We think differently, the event has created fears which creep up everywhere. We trust people less, we have become so much more suspicious, we focus on potential risks at many places and events. In the U.S. we have become a wealthy, scared nation. We feel like we need to fight and defend our status and I think we will never be able to step back to how we felt before — not in this nation and not on a global perspective.

In a way I feel like we give terrorism way too much attention, and we use the event to do things which only escalate disparity.... I am so tired of hearing about "terrorism" —Regina Rippel, St. Paul, MN

NO
I wept along with the nation last September, but my day to day life has changed mainly because of other closer events in my life — the birth of a child, the death of a beloved parent. I do think our government has used the fear the attacks to limit our civil rights and to turn our attention from domestic problems which are more pressing — and I think more immediately threatening to the majority of Americans. I do mourn for those who lost loved ones on September 11. But I mourn too for those losing their jobs everyday, for the families affected by instability, depression, and anger.

I worry, also, that the attacks on September 11 have served to heighten our sense of world entitlement. There have been tragedies on this scope ongoing throughout the world, and yet only when our shores were crossed did we have the hubris to say the event had "changed the world". As a nation, we need to open our eyes to our position in the world community, and realize there are no black and white, simple solutions to the threats of terrorism, poverty, and inequities. —Heather Craig, Minneapolis, MN

NO
My life has not changed since September 11th. In the 80's and 90's I listened to Central Americans, friends working in Kosovo and the Balkans, indigenous people, Iraqi environmentalists, economists, and others and was opened to the effects that United States foreign and domestic policies have on and throughout the whole globe. I am saddened daily that I enjoy a relatively privileged life at the expense of others and the planet we live on. This is not new for me.

I am troubled that the events of September 11 are now being abused and that more innocent people's lives will be made more difficult for the profit of a few. I am convinced that our wonderful planet has the resources to insure clean water, adequate nutrition, and thoughtful education for all people but remain doubtful that as humans we will be able to work together to share her wonderful gifts. —Mary B. Newcomb, Duluth, MN


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Photo Above: Margaret DeNeergaard, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, September 11, 2001, Documentary Project Collection

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