As I sit here and reflect – yesterday, September 11, marked the 11th anniversary of the most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. history. It is the day four commercial aircraft were hijacked and used as weapons against unsuspecting civilians.
While the victims and their loved ones were changed forever, all Americans were united by tragedy and could not help but feel helpless and heartbroken. This act of terrorism brought a nation together – in mourning and in the unification of bringing those responsible to justice. This was an unintended consequence from the terrorist’s perspective. Though there were some other things I recall from 2001 that 9/11 brought about – one of them was an intended consequence the terrorists had. They created a wave of fear that washed over our country.
From the tree-lined neighborhoods of America’s suburbs to the farmland of the Midwest and everywhere else, a feeling of safety was taken away. Our confidence was shaken because we were sucker punched in our own backyard. People all the sudden trusted few others. Kids could not play outside. Terrorist alerts were issued on a daily basis like smog alerts. In this way, the terrorists won. They put fear and panic in our lives. They made us put up our guard. And who knows, we probably should have our guard up… just too bad it started to be against each other.
I know this firsthand because Southwestern Advantage had college students From America and other nations, all of various cultures who were running their own sales business that summer. This included students who were of Middle Eastern descent who ended up not completing their summer business that year. They were asked to cut their summer just short because of the fear of the unknown. What was unknown at the time was how people in these neighborhoods and communities would react. Some people who did not have a leash on their emotions or were stirred up enough to take inappropriate action could do something they might later regret. Who knows? Safety first, always safety first.
I think back to the weeks after 9/11 and how it affected everyone I know. It affected everyone I work with. It affected this great nation. It drew us close and it, at the same time, created a divide – one where everyone was a stranger and drew suspicious looks because of how they looked or what theydid for a summer business. The ramifications of how 9/11 changed us have not subsided. We still think the worst of people – especially someone who comes to our door. With social media now, we are able to spread our suspicions, fears and assumptions at break-neck speed. We can start a rumor that will end a young person’s dream faster than we can start our car. Oh, it happens. And it happens to the type of people we should be fighting for, not against – our young people who have the initiative to make something of their lives.
Yes, 9/11 was a devastating blow to our country, our economy, our confidence… and our sense of safety. Everyone’s a stranger now. The question is, how will you remember the victims? How will you remember the heroes? How will we treat others? And how will we continue to move forward? Let’s not forget what our country is all about. Live free, die free. But in the meantime, let’s be understanding and nice to each other. Take the time to get to know others so our freedoms stay protected – from commercial free speech to our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.