My younger brother has never known an America at peace, and I have only a vague memory of the first wave of U.S. military deployment after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Images of reporters standing outside foreign cities, backlit with fire; reports of death tolls and terrible attacks — these are normal to us, mixing in with other daily news like the weather.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to most of my generation are far-distant things, conflicts that started a long time ago for unknown causes and perpetuated for unseen reasons.
This is not ignorance. A group of citizens in post-9/11 America is coming of age inadvertently more aware of the potential destruction humans can inflict on one another, and who seem to be becoming more involved in the direction the nation is moving.
A new tragedy
With the aid of the Internet, kids are reaching out, exploring more and teaching themselves more about the world around them.
At the time the 9/11 attacks happened, I didn’t understand what was going on, but then again I’m not sure many did. Watching as the two buildings crumbled into nothing but stone and dust quickly opened my eyes to a world far outside my own, but also extended the world I thought I already conquered.
I never lived a sheltered life, but never had tragedy been so blaringly obvious to me, played on a loop on every news network.
I wouldn’t say that it made me more mature, as I did what most children do and tucked it away deep in my memory and went on with my life, but now that I’m older, I have discovered a new tragedy in that I have grown accustomed to hearing about life-shattering sorrow.
The aftermath of the attacks brought drastic changes in the way the country, and the world, viewed safety, including the introduction of a new division of the federal government: the Department of Homeland Security. Safety is now on everybody’s radar screen.
Knowledge is key
As an American, I hold no grudge against anyone of Middle Eastern descent. In fact, due to increased diversity and broader education programs in my school, I am intrigued by the Islamic world and want to know more, understand more. Whether this is related directly to 9/11 I cannot say, but I do know there is and always will be a part of me that wants to make sense of the jumble of facts as I understand them.
I am a member of the so-called “9/11 Generation,” a title bestowed upon the upcoming group of youths by various news anchors and political analysts that is largely inaccurate. Surely we are growing up in a world much different from previous generations, but isn’t that always how the cycle of human development works?