This video shot by an NYU freshman on September 11, 2001 offers a raw and chilling reminder to many of the horrific events that unfolded that day.
For others, the video is an eye opening education. This year’s class of high school freshman were not even born when the attacks took place. September 11 is their Pearl Harbor, an event that we know shaped the history of our country and the world, but didn’t really affect us on a personal level.
Today’s elementary and middle school students are seldom taught the full extent of the impact that 9/11 had on our everyday lives, and though there are many teachers who stress the importance of the day to the younger generation, the lack of firsthand perspective seems to have created a disconnect over the years.
If you were old enough to remember the horrific events that took place on September 11, 2001, you remember exactly where you were when you heard the horrific news.
I still have crystal clear memory of that chaotic day. I was sitting in my seventh grade history class, when suddenly, our usually jovial teacher received a phone call that turned her expression from a grin to ghostly horror. Although my teacher—along with all of the others— was under strict instruction not to turn on our classroom television and startle our underdeveloped minds, she just couldn’t help but flip on the news (and I don’t blame her).
For the rest of that uneasy period, we all sat quietly with our history textbooks closed, we didn’t need them any longer, history was happening right before our very eyes. Even though my middle school was located in South Florida, over 1,000 miles away from where the Twin Towers were attacked, the shockwave of what just transpired struck us all instantly. My classmates were being picked up early by their parents left and right, to the point where I was one of three students present in my final period. When I finally got home, my headstrong New York-rooted mother had her teary eyes glued to the news, completely unable to fathom what just took place in her hometown.
That was exactly 15 years ago, and though we still pay homage to the victims of the attack every 9/11, time has numbed much of the emotional and patriotic sentiment that resulted from the catastrophic event. As many of you may remember, following the attack, almost every car boasted an American flag, no one dared crack a joke or argue a conspiracy theory about what took place, hell, most of the country even got schemed into supporting the invasion of Iraq, which really had nothing to do with terrorist attack to begin with.
In my opinion, the fact that some companies are starting to commercialize the tragedy for their own profit doesn’t help. For instance, a Walmart in Florida recently stacked 12-pack boxes of Coke Zero into the form of the two fallen towers, creating a “memorial” of sorts for Ground Zero. Even worse is the ad recently put out by the San Antonio-based store Miracle Mattress, who announced a “Twin Tower sale”, which ended with two workers knocking over stacked mattresses that were representative of the World Trade Center buildings. The ad caught a ton of backlash from all over the country, eventually causing the store to close down.
So, it seems that there’s still a limit to what you can use 9/11 as a platform for. As time passes, the tumultuous day seems more like a holiday and less like a day for remembering those who passed away and risked their lives in the horrific attack. In America, it now seems more socially acceptable to discuss conspiracy theories surrounding the event, while internet memes poking fun at George W. Bush and 9/11 have become more popular than ever before.
To be frank, I do believe that some of these jokes are created in poor taste, and I certainly don’t agree with companies trying to profit off of such a devastating event. But, in the same respect, as time continues to pass, 9/11 will likely become less and less of a controversial and meaningful topic to the country, though it will certainly always remain a terribly important landmark in American history. At the end of the day, regardless of your thoughts (or thoughtlessness) about what transpired on that fateful day 15 years ago, it’s important to recognize 9/11 as a historic moment that has reshaped the social landscape of the United States.