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The 9/11 and Iraq War Generation
Words: John Cappello
Image: Tyler Rosado
The footage of 9/11 is still one of the most frightening visuals that I have ever seen. I have only seen the full footage once, in a classroom setting, about five years after the day. I cannot bear to watch it again. On September 11th, 2001, I was 11 years old. Now I am a teacher to middle school students. My students are the same age I was that fateful day and they were all born after 9/11. One day my peers and I will be the last generation alive that remembers America before 9/11. We will be the last living Americans who can recall exactly what 9/11 was like from a child's perspective.
At the time of the first plane crash, I was waiting at a bus stop in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I went through the entire school day without hearing a single mention of what had happened. Once I got back home, my mother and brother greeted me with the news. I didn't understand what was going on. Well, to be exact, I understood the facts, but I did not understand the gravitas of the situation. To me, an act of war was a commonplace thing, having grown up seeing footage of domestic terrorism and bombings in other countries almost every evening on NBC. This just seemed like another one.
As the week rolled on, I understood why it was such a horrifying event to everyone else but me. This was an attack on us. 9/11 is what taught me that there was a difference. It's hard to wrap my mind around that concept as an adult, but until 9/11 I had no national pride or sense of community with other Americans. I just thought that we all lived on Earth. When my classmates and I asked our teachers why we were attacked, the answer was simple: "They were jealous of our freedom." I ate that up.
9/11 was the first international terrorist attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was a naval base in Hawaii. At that time, Hawaii had not yet become the 50th state. 9/11 happened on legitimate American soil, and hit our country's biggest power centers. Everyone felt the impact.
I absolutely despise when filmmakers splice the footage into their movies. I recently saw the Oldboy remake directed by Spike Lee (which in itself was an assault on the eyes) and during a montage sequence early into the film, there's footage of the first plane hitting the Northern Tower. Footage for anything but historical archiving is downright disrespectful.
I am happy to be living in this country. This country is diverse and has a plethora of natural beauty. But, in many ways, I am also ashamed when I think to some of the U.S. government's reactions to the terrorist attacks. I think of the 10-year war we spent in Iraq, a country which took center stage over Afghanistan where Al-Qaeda was based, in which thousands of good American and Iraqi people died. Hindsight is perfect, they say, and now everyone in the U.S. knows (or at least should know) that there was no evidence whatsoever linking Iraq to 9/11.
I'm confused constantly about why we ignore the continued actions of Al-Qaeda, "the enemy", and why we don't bat an eye at the recent atrocities they have committed in Afghanistan. Their atrocity-making days are not over. We have only created more enemies since the end of our War on Terrorism. I know I am not alone in feeling insecure about our reactions to the attack. People all over the world looked at us with skepticism. I wonder what my opinion of our actions would have been if I were a child born in Iraq?
Yesterday, September 10, 2014, President Obama announced plans to place 475 troops back into Iraq to combat ISIS. I was hoping that would not happen. We are always at war. I was a child of the 9/11 and Iraq War generation. I wonder what horrors will mark my children's lifetime.
#Real #Remembering #9/11 #September11th #Memories #Politics #Confusion #TwinTowers #IraqWar #WarOnTerror
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