Time travel does not exist. If it did, though, and I was able to travel back to Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I may be able to hold conversation with my younger self.
Three topics would undoubtedly come up. First, he would be very disappointed I was not a successful heavy metal musician. C’est la vie.
Second, he would be surprised I was still in university, and without a PhD. Get used to disappointment, kid. That’s nothing.
Third, he would want to know the outcome of the events of the terrorism attacks that day, how it affected our country … and he would want to know what it was like attending class with students who did not remember it. Some Ferris students were even born AFTER 9/11.
That boggles my mind.
You’ve heard it from your parents, teachers and elders — I am sure of it — but now hear it from me, your classmate maybe a little bit older.
Only two events in current human memory match that day: the Pearl Harbor bombing and the assassination of President John F Kennedy. My parents used to relate the day of JFK’s death, and how they remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. The September attacks were like that for me, too. Except…
I remember the entire day from beginning to end.
In that respect, it seems like only yesterday, not the 18 years that have since passed. Nothing of the day before. Maybe bits and pieces of the following week or so. But that day, from waking up to going to bed is permanently ingrained in my memory…burnt on like a weird tattoo.
Younger students who were maybe two, four or six years old do not remember much because they couldn’t grasp the complexity or impact of the situation. But for older students such as myself, there is a definitive impression of life before the event and life afterward. It’s like summer turned to a long, harsh winter in a single day. And spring still has not come. We are still living in the wake of that day nearly 20 years later.
There was a time our country was not at war. At all. Yeah, skirmishes in Bosnia and Kosovo, but no comparison.
We don’t hear about it anymore in the news — because it’s NOT news — but the international war on terror is still very much happening. We still have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. And our efforts to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban back- red, creating more destructing splinter groups such as the Islamic State and ensuring terrorist movements for the near future.
There was a time terrorism was not a thing, or at least it seemed to a young, impressionable mind. Terrorism was a third world problem.
Now it’s almost a daily concern. The 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting is evidence of this. So is the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing during an Ariana Grande concert. Domestic terrorism has always been a thing, but it was rarely attached to any radical religious groups. And that leads me to the next point.
Islamophobia. Was not. A thing.
Yes, there have always been assholes and racists. But life before 9/11 was mostly devoid of any public hate speech against Muslims. It’s truly hard to imagine now, especially for those born in the last 20 years.
No war. No terrorism. No Islamophobia. Seems nice, doesn’t it? That might not be a totally accurate statement, but that’s what the world looked like to a young, middle-class student in 2001.
That’s how much has changed. That’s why this day is important; not the planes or deaths or whatever. Those are tragically significant — significantly tragic — we need to remember them. But it’s everything that unfolded afterward that resonate so much today.
Now that we all understand what is gone…what can we do to restore it?