The Day the World Changed
The events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, remain deeply etched in the collective American consciousness. While it impacted people of all ages, it remains, for those of my generation, the day our world changed. Many of us didn’t recognize it at the time, but life as we knew it was permanently altered following the attacks of that day.
It seems that many generations share such moments. In colonial America, the world changed following the Boston Massacre. Tensions were already running high when the world changed with the battle of Fort Sumter. The stock market crash of 1929 changed the world for those who immediately left the roaring 1920s and hit the brick wall of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Just over a decade later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor changed the world for the Greatest Generation. The Civil Rights movement, the Kennedy assassinations, and the moon landing all marked the changing of the world throughout the 1960s. And the disintegration of the Soviet Union changed the world for those who grew up beneath the menacing shadow of the Cold War.
Each of these events decisively changed the zeitgeist of a generation, and 9/11 had the same effect on mine. We were the Nintendo Generation, free from the fears of war, living in a new era of prosperity, and stepping into a new millennium. We were coming of age at the height of the Information Age and on the precipice of technological wonders which previous generations could never have imagined. And then, at once, those hopes were decimated. We learned that there were people who hated us, just because we existed. Not only did they hate us, but they were determined to kill us. Our very existence and way of life were under attack. But from the ashes, we rose.
We embraced our families, friends, neighbors, and strangers, expressing a uniquely American love for our fellow man. We assisted first responders, donated blood, and rushed to recruiting offices around the country to enlist in our nation’s armed forces. When terrorists threatened America’s liberty and peace, the Nintendo generation put down our toys, picked up our guns, and responded to their violence with nearly two decades of war. Those who have lived through this conflict may carry their physical and psychological wounds for the rest of their lives. They will never again see the world they left behind on September 10, 2001.
The world changed for everyone on September 11, 2001. We see it in skylines, airports, and other aspects of everyday life. For some, these changes are mere inconveniences, but for my generation, they are an ever present reminder of the way things used to be, the way things ought to be, and the way things may never be again. For us, September 11, 2001 marks the end of our innocence, the deferment of our dreams, and the end of the world as we knew it. Today, we remember what might have been if not for the malice of evil men on that clear September morning twenty years ago. Today, we reflect back on the day our world changed forever.