Copyright © 2018
As our country marks the 15-year anniversary of 9-11, we are, in many ways, changed forever as a people and as a nation.
I think that whenever something historic occurs, we tend to remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. On the morning of 9-11-2001, I was heading west towards Jackson (my work location for the day) and I can remember thinking it would be a great day to play hooky. The sky was a very vivid Parrish blue color without a cloud in sight. The weather was crisp and clean with just a hint of fall in the air. As I drove along, singing to the radio on that beautiful morning, I had no idea that within two hours, my life and my country would be forever altered by terrorism.
My boss and I reviewed the questions for our afternoon interviews, composed a few e-mails, and just as we were getting ready to attend our first meeting, we were interrupted by the unit officer as he hollered down the hall, "Quick - turn your radio on. A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center in New York."
As we listened to the sketchy details, a second plane hit and then we knew it was no accident.
My boss immediately said, "I'll bet al-Qaeda has something to do with this."
I just nodded my head in agreement, but I really had no clue who or what al-Qaeda was. I was just having a difficult time processing what had just transpired.
Since that time, al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL, and terrorism have become household names. Our lives have changed in many ways and things we never expected to encounter have become commonplace.
For example, prior to 9-11, I could arrive at the airport an hour before my scheduled flight and not worry about missing it. I could carry shampoo, liquid medication, and a Bic lighter in my carry-on and not be pulled aside to be searched and my items confiscated. Now long lines snake around airport terminals, as barefoot weary travelers inch their way to the x-ray machines hoping to pass muster and be allowed to board. I used to think it was exciting to fly, but now I worry that one wrong facial expression could prompt one of the cheerless TNA agents to pull me out of the line for a more "in-depth" search.
Since 9-11, the Patriot Act was passed in order to ensure our safety. However, it seems that in order to ensure safety, our civil liberties must be sacrificed. Since safety can never be guaranteed, all we have done is give up another piece of our freedom. I figure that if we give our government an inch, naturally they will want a mile, and so I am reluctant to give up any of the rights I have enjoyed my entire lifetime.
When you give up something like smoking in bars and restaurants, that's fine if you don't smoke. In fact, you are glad! Let those filthy smokers kill themselves in the privacy of their homes, not in public. However, the deeper ramification is this: Today's target may be smokers, tomorrow it may be your guns, or your right to buy Hostess Twinkies.
It seems to me that 9-11 has strengthened the power of the United States government, but weakened the unity of its' citizens. Throughout history, catastrophic events such as the World Wars, hurricanes, and other disasters have brought people together, working toward one common cause. In the short-term, we did all come together to help the 9-11 victims and their families. We gave money, food, and sent manpower to help the injured and to clear the debris. Long term, we have become more splintered as a nation, often turning our fear into hatred and lashing out at each other. Battle lines are drawn based on ethnicity, sexual preference, economics, religion, and beliefs.
All you need to do is look at our two polar opposite choices for president this November — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. If you believe in sending back all of the illegal immigrants, line up behind Trump. If you think you would be safer if your neighbors all handed in their firearms, get in the Hillary for President line. Never have I seen our nation so divided, so hostile, and so bleak.
Not only did we lose human life 15 years ago, we also lost our "way of life," and I am not sure we can ever get it back.