Post 9/11 is All We Know

Life before September 11th, 2001, is unfathomable to our generation.


We teenagers are the first generation born after 9/11. Can we even come close to understanding what American life was like before the Twin Towers fell?

September 11th, 2001, is a day that shocked the world and changed American culture as a whole. Like practically every other high student in the U.S., I wish I knew what America was like before the planes struck the World Trade Center. My classmates and I are the first generation born after 9/11.

Yet when I hear the words 9/11, somberness settles in throughout my entire body. When I see the videos of the planes striking the towers, tears fill my eyes. When I see the items left behind from those who lost their lives, my heart sinks. We may not have been alive on September 11th, but as a post 9/11 generation, we have grown up facing the impact the terrorist attack has left on America.

We don’t know what it’s like to go to an airport and not stand in lines for hours to be patted down and have our bags searched multiple times. Now when we fly, we arrive hours before our departure time, in preparation for the strenuous security measures we have to endure. We can’t drop off your loved ones at the gate or sit and watch the planes take off. Everything about airlines is serious. The measures that have been taken in airports are necessary, though, as officials can never be thorough enough in the wake of a terrorist attack.

We may not have been alive on September 11th, but as a post 9/11 generation, we have grown up facing the impact the terrorist attack has left on America.”

We have grown up with the “see something, say something” attitude nailed into us. Who did you see? What were they doing? When did you see it? Where did it occur? Why is it suspicious? We’ve been familiarized with these questions our whole life. This campaign was created by the Department of Homeland Security to call attention to potential terrorist attacks. We have grown up looking for signs of terrorists, but most of us don’t realize that life before 9/11 was much different.

Likewise, we are forced to give up some of our privacy to the government. Whether it’s our calls, emails, medical records, or even mail, everything can be subject to government monitoring. Many Americans do not question that their privacy is a small price to pay in order to prevent another terrorist attack. Teens make jokes about our personal FBI agent monitoring our phones or computers, but can you imagine living in a world where that would be an obscure thought? I can’t, but many of our elders can.

Our generation has grown up to become desensitized to everything the past eighteen years have held for us. When I asked multiple North Allegheny students how growing up in a post 9/11 world has impacted them, the majority simply said, “It hasn’t affected me. It’s all I’ve ever known.”

This is true — the impact is unrecognizable because it’s all we’ve ever known.

English teacher Mr. Truesdell could not have said it better: “I think it’s sad that your generation has become accustomed to war and is almost, I wouldn’t want to say blind, but numb to the fact that every day of your life, our country has been involved in the longest standing war in American history.”

We are numb. We are blind. We are desensitized. We have been impacted by the events that unfolded on September 11th, 2001. Our country as we would have known it changed forever. We will remember those we lost and those who sacrificed it all. As the ancient Roman poet Virgil once said, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”