The one day everyone can recall precisely where they were and what they were doing when an event occurred is September 11th, 2001. I remember waking to use the bathroom when my sister told me a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.
Neither of us was typically awake at that time (swing shift), but my father had called and woke her up with the news. My eyes immediately looked over to the television screen, and I never went back to sleep that day.
The Day the World Stood Still
We watched and frantically screamed together as the second plane hit live on national television and, like the rest of America, were consumed with sheer panic and terror. The Pentagon was hit, and Flight United 93 went down. And for the first time, Americans were confronted with terms like terrorism and Al-Qaeda.
Almost overnight, Americans were proudly flying flags, tattoo artists were giving free flag tattoos, and a new spark of Patriotism ignited a closeness I’d never witnessed before or since that time. It’s the scariest thing to happen on American soil during my lifetime, with over 3,000 people losing their lives that day.
While NOTHING surmounts the loss of human life, many things have changed forever as a result of that day. A recent online discussion explored what those things are.
1. Quick Airline Travel
Do you remember arriving at the airport 30 minutes before needing to board your flight and making it easily? Long gone are those days. With stricter TSA security and protocols in effect, you’re advised to show up at least two hours before your departure.
2. Meeting People at the Gates
In addition to quick travel times, we lost the ability to meet our loved ones at their gates as they exit their planes. You used to see people holding flowers, waiting with signs, and embracing in long hugs as you made your way to baggage claim.
Since 9/11, people are no longer allowed to be the first smiling faces their loved ones see coming off the airplane. We also lost the ability to walk our loved ones to their gates and watch their airplanes take off safely.
3. National News Coverage
From airing sensationalized stories as “Breaking News” to keeping the crawler on the bottom of the screen indefinitely, national news coverage changed significantly because of 9/11. I’ll never forget the weeks after the event.
National news networks aired people crying and sharing their personal stories while still holding out hope they would be reunited with their loved ones lost that day. It was tragic but felt exploitative, and I remember my grandmother saying so.
4. Casual Crossings at the Canadian Border
There was a time when people could go back and forth between the Canadian and U.S. border without much qualms. However, after 9/11, it’s become increasingly difficult. From armed guards to requiring passports, it’s become much more than a simple “Where are you going, and do you have anything to declare?”
5. Birthday Celebrations
Never mind all the people alive with birthdays that fall on 9/11; over 13,000 babies were born on September 11th, 2001. Many of them express having forever ruined birthdays, with one half-heartedly joking that at least their birthday’s slogan is “Never Forget.” People also mention having weddings and anniversaries, permanently pained with the loss we experienced that day.
6. Perception of Middle Eastern People
Moreover, the perception of Muslims. Sadly, that day sparked an outcry of racism and hate crimes towards Middle Eastern folks. I remember a Sikh convenience store owner being targeted and him explaining that he wasn’t even Muslim.
People of Arab and South Asian descent became targets of government practices, resulting in racial profiling. An unfortunate number of people confessed to being targeted with terrorist jokes, and some even removed their hijabs because their families feared for their safety in New York.
7. Country Music
To be fair, I don’t listen to very much country music, so I can’t attest to this allegation. However, numerous individuals suggest that country music forever changed after 9/11. Several users claim that post 9/11, the biggest hits became “Rah Rah USA.” A Nashvillian elaborates: “They basically chased anyone who wasn’t a strict conformist out of Nashville.
The Dixie Chicks went from one of the three biggest acts in the entire genre to being gone just because they said they didn’t support the war in Iraq. This was huge for a genre founded on outlaws and working-class leftists against the man. Mainstream Country music hasn’t recovered and likely never will.”
8. Our Freedom
Have you heard of a little something called The Patriot Act? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explains it best: “Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans —
By expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet. While most Americans think it was created to catch terrorists, the Patriot Act actually turns regular citizens into suspects.”
9. The Manhattan Skyline
Watching both towers collapse into ash clouds on national television was shocking and traumatizing. Several New Yorkers explain that the Twin Towers were iconic buildings before the event but will always be known for 9/11.
The Manhattan, New York Skyline has forever changed. Seeing movies and television episodes that featured images of the Twin Towers now is a painful reminder of that day.
10. The Police
Countless forum members note that 9/11 helped to militarize the police. The U.S. Brown University released a study that examines the correlation between U.S. military conflicts in the post-9/11 era and an increase in police militarization.
The study’s author, Jessica Katzenstein, writes: “Police departments raced to develop counterterror systems; meanwhile, the scale and profits of military-industrial corporations mushroomed as the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq.
These forces converged with the growth of specialized police training and tactics to combat the rising number of mass shootings and with more recent military drawdowns from active war zones, to vastly inflate an existing pipeline from the military and the federal government to local police.”
Casualties of War
The numbers are staggering. According to a University study, the Iraq War claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 people, including Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. Combine that with the reported 174,000 lives lost in Afghanistan and the 70,000 lives in Pakistan relating to this war. Nearly three-quarters of a million people have lost their lives to the War on Terror.
This article is not meant to offend anyone or make light of the tragedy that unfolded on September 11, 2001. God bless the families of those lost and the 10,000 + first responders who are still losing their lives to diseases caused by inhaling the toxic cloud of dust, and God bless America today. Never Forget.
15 American Customs That Foreigners Admit Make Absolutely No Sense
I recently ran into a fun question on a popular internet forum. A member asked the Non-Americans what American custom makes no sense to them. Here are their honest confessions.
15 Startling Ways the Rest of the World Misinterprets American Culture
Have you heard any misconceptions about American culture? For example, I have repeatedly heard misconceptions about America not having a good cheese selection because people believe we only eat Kraft American cheese slices and cheese out of a can. Trust me, not all of us eat that “cheese.”
Boomer Wisdom: 15 Hardest Truths to Accept in Life
Recently, someone asked an online forum of boomers, “What is the hardest thing to accept in life?” Here are their honest confessions. Do you agree?
False Survival Facts: 19 Popular Myths That May Get You Killed
There are many survival myths parading around as facts that could get you killed if you don’t know any better. After someone asked an online survival community for said myths, here are their honest confessions.
10 Seriously Evil Companies That Not Enough People Talk About — Do You?
Is there a company you refuse to support because you believe they are evil or unethical? You’ve got company. After someone polled an internet community for examples of said companies, here are THEIR top-voted responses.
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.