By MICHAEL DRURY
A two year old can barely grasp the concept of language, let alone the events that took place on 9/11. That’s exactly how old my sister, Ariana Drury, was 10 years ago. Now, at the age of 12, she is just beginning to understand what 9/11 is; however, her knowledge and the change in reality while growing up is nothing compared to what I experienced, and how those events changed the way I saw the world.
Anyone my age, older, and now younger know what happened on 9/11. But for the younger generations do they truly know everything about it?
“I know that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers,” said Ariana. “A plane crashed into the Pentagon, and one plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. I think after the first plane hit the tower a few minutes later the plane crashed into the other one. My teacher just told us about what happened and how he felt. One thing I didn’t know at first was the plane that crashed in the field; the people on the plane attacked the terrorists and crashed it into the field so no one else would get hurt.”
Like so many others my sister has a basic knowledge of the terrorist attacks. However, beyond this fact she failed to see importance it has today. I was in the same state of mind she was. I was 12 on 9/11 but over the years I have come to a better understanding of the attacks.
I remember getting home that day and being upset I couldn’t watch Fox Kids on Fox because there was nothing but news coverage. For someone who was 12 I could not grasp the situation right away. it’s even tougher for someone my sister’s age to understand it because she was two, and was just developing her motor skills; 9/11 would have little to no effect emotionally, but her surroundings changed and a post 9/11-world is the only thing she knows.
I know two different worlds, pre-9/11 and post. Pre-9/11 I could go to a friends or go downtown without anyone worrying. I could stay after school on the playground and walk home by myself without anyone worrying. After the attacks, my parents always wanted to know where I was, and I could never be alone outside unless I was with a friend. Since my sister grew up post-9/11 being in constant contact and not being allowed outside by herself is a natural thing to her.
One of the main results of 9/11 was Bush’s War on Terror. The United States is currently occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq thwarting threats such as the Taliban and the late Saddam Hussein. However, if these attacks did not happen one has to wonder if the US would even consider invading these countries.
“I didn’t know 9/11 was the main reason we are at war. But I did know Osama Bin Laden planned the attack, but I didn’t know it affected the war in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Ariana says now.
For the majority of Ariana’s entire life, the country has been at war. It is not surprising that she knew who we were fighting but not why. She has grown up seeing images of war and living with terror alerts as if it were natural. I remember the first time I heard we were definitely going to war with Afghanistan, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this is happening, I thought the fighting today only involved Middle-Eastern countries.” Since that time, the way people behave has drastically changed. It was almost like living in America during the Cold War. Except instead of doing nuclear drills at school, I would have to partake in bomb drills. Since I lived so close the city the area was always on high alert with terror threats, and even Anthrax attack threats.
I used to think taking an airplane was one of the most exciting ways to travel. Now, in the back of my mind I always think “what if?” My sister says she has no concern. She thinks flying is still the safest way to travel. While I agree it is still the safest form of transportation, she does not understand how rattled the attacks left everyone; the increased security is all natural to her, while someone like me sees new security laws, such as no liquids allowed, and I think “oh now I have worry about this.”
The attacks left the nation mourning, however its people came out stronger and united. Patriotism swept the streets as American flags and images of the World Trade Center could be seen throughout the country.
“I was only two when it happened and I didn’t know much at the time,” said Ariana. “But after teachers explained it to me I didn’t really think anything of it. But then in 2010 after my friend died I knew what their pain felt like.”
It’s completely reasonable for someone my sister’s age to initially not feel anything. While she can recognize it was a tragedy, she was unable to comprehend the basics of an event on the scale of 9/11. I remember a month after the attacks I was at the mall with my mother and a vendor was selling an American flag pin. We each bought a pin and I proudly wore it to school every day for the rest of the year. I even bought two postcards of the Twin Towers pinned them to the board above my desk in my bedroom.
For the rest of my life I grew up in a country more united by a tragedy, but Americans still had a sense of fear in the back of their minds. Every year in history class my teacher would recount the events. Not only was 9/11 covered, but since there was so much media coverage on the ongoing wars it was a constant discussion topic. Today, my sister and her peers only learn about it once a year, and that education didn’t start until second grade.
“I started learning about 9/11 in second grade,” said Ariana. “At that time I didn’t know what it was. I knew people died but didn’t know what happened. As I got older I understood it better. I had seen it on the news every year but never really knew what it was.”