On Sept. 11, 2001, I was barely three years old. I don’t remember anything about the day, but it still proves to be one of the most impactful in recent history on both a personal and public level.
To the public, ordeals are faced on a daily basis with a focus around combatting tragedies such as the one fourteen years ago today.
Prior to the attacks, the War on Terror was nonexistent. Soon after the deliberation, we went to war with Afghanistan and later Iraq. It only took a month to get troops on the ground with the end goal of dismantling al Qaeda, a project that would go on for many years and cost our nation around $6 trillion and nearly 7000 American lives.
Troops pulled out of Iraq completely in 2011 without restabilizing the country and leaving it ultimately worse off than when the war began. We’re now faced with the latest terrorist organization to headline the news as often as the upcoming election, ISIS. Formed out of political instability throughout Iraq and Syria, the group of Islamist militants now wreaks havoc across the entire globe, recruiting even Americans to provide a larger base for their movement.
Though combat operations in Afghanistan ended in 2014, the effects of the longest lasting American war are still prevalent as we remain present throughout the region to aid the Taliban insurgency and reduce more turmoil throughout the Middle East.
The homeland security budget has more than doubled in the past fourteen years. Prior to the attacks, the total funding was just over $16 billion, it’s now over 600. The protection of our nation against terrorism is now ranked among top issues like employment, the economy, healthcare and taxes– and understandably so.
Just in a single day, it’s reported that 1.73 million U.S. citizens will board a domestic flight. 9/11 was the worst terrorist attack in American history because it was so effective in instilling fear upon nearly every U.S. citizen. Each and every time security checks require one of those individuals to remove their shoes, it’s a reminder of what happened.
The TSA, implemented just over a month following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, made it so that security inside of and around airports is now extremely tightly monitored. My dad used to be a pilot and whenever I hear his stories, I think to myself there’s no way they actually let any of that happen.
One of my favorites stories to hear is about when my grandpa missed his flight to Iowa. My dad ran out after the gates had been closed to get the plane to wait for him, just like something out of a movie. Nowadays, there isn’t even the opportunity to walk your family members or friends up through security or up to the gate.
During the Boston Bombings in 2013, the main response among the public varied between anger and fear. With 9/11, though those emotions were present, anxiety, fear and shock also washed across the general public. Many didn’t understand why something like this would happen. No one could fathom whether or not it would happen again, causing them to fear another attack specifically in relation to a flight attack.
Two years ago for my sixteenth birthday, I was one of the 1.73 million boarding a domestic flight. I was headed to New York City with my best friend, Alexandra, and our moms. My mom, unfortunately, didn’t ever make it on the plane.
The night before we were scheduled to leave and head to the big city, she freaked out. The idea of flying to such a big city, particularly New York, literally debilitated her.
While visiting, the most powerful moment I experienced was standing at the edge of the gigantic, man made waterfalls where the twin towers once stood. All the names around the rim of the structures began to stick out to me individually when I realized I would never remember the exact tag of each fallen individual.
All around me, there was such a wide variety of people. Some tourists from around the United States, a lot of out of country tour groups, some locals, many soldiers, police officers, firemen were the easiest to notice.
What was most powerful, though, were the individuals who you couldn’t immediately identify among everyone else. Some would stand blankly looking down into the depths past the waterfall; some would sit and cry with their hands grazing over nameplates.
Something so big and so important to our country and our government hits a note with nearly everyone inside of the United States, even those who were too young to remember what they were doing when the planes hit.