Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am failing miserably at keeping this updated. But I figured that like millions of other people, tomorrow means that I should write an entry about that day.

I was a senior in high school. And the day began like any other...every school morning since I was in 4th grade, I woke up and turned on the The Today Show (I haven't watched that show since 9/11). That particular morning, I was watching it and whinging about a lost boot. I remember seeing Katie Couric reporting on what was happening, I remember going in to tell my mom that a plan had crashed in the World Trade Center.

I went to school, and in all but my Broadcasting class, we were prohibited from accessing the Internet. My classmates and I crowded around the editing computer and read updates on At lunch, someone had turned the TV on, and we all sat in stunned silence as we watched people jump from the windows of the burning buildings. Shortly after the footage aired, someone shut the tv off and in a room full of 200 or so adolescents, you could've heard a pin drop.

It's almost impossible for 17 to 18 year olds to put their lives into perspective without a catastrophic event serving as a catalyst. 9/11 accomplished that. This happened the 2nd week of school, and all of the giddyness that typically accompanies the beginning of senior year faded quietly into the background as we all realized we were on the brink of war. But this was not the type of war fought by our grandfathers; it was something deeper, stronger, more menacing and infinitely more mysterious. How can you combat a state of mind? How can you fight an enemy that isn't isolated strictly to the borders of one country? The weapons that were used against us weren't bombs or guns, but commercial jet planes. The victims were unarmed; they were passengers on planes, men and women going about their work day. They were civilians. This sort of thing happened overseas, to other people in far off places like Israel. But not in America, not to us. As a country, we had to learn to strike a balance between caution and paralyzing fear. Between recognizing a specific threat and making swift, blanket judgements.

I will never discount just how much that day in September changed the lives of everyone in this country in one way or another, and it is a day we really should never forget. But it frightens me that our leaders, the Republicans in particular, have been unable to move beyond that day in terms of creating policy.

Later in the evening on September 11th, at my mother's urging, I changed the channel to MTV, which had begun airing music videos non-stop. One of the songs I heard was called "Stuck in a Moment" by U2. I was never a U2 fan, but this particular song has always reminded me of 9/11 because I heard it that day, and I felt the lyrics were strangely appropriate. And maybe not so much on that exact day, but now, 7 years later, we as a country still derive much of our foreign policy not from current events, but from that day. We collectively are "stuck in a moment," and until we learn to take lessons from that fateful day, we cannot possibly respond to the threats we as a nation face today.

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