How September 11 shaped my education on politics, prejudice and loss

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This week, journalists on Pioneer staff were asked to write a column in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 attacks, a renowned historic event that was the prime example of terrorism in the United States and remains the deadliest terrorist attack in humanity. history and the deadliest fire and law enforcement incident in US history.

As I mulled over what angle to take in my thinking, I realized that I actually had no solid memories to reflect on from the actual day. I was born at the beginning of October 1998 and I was just under three years old at the time of the attacks. My recollection of 9/11 comes mostly in the form of what I saw indirectly through my own research, social media, and YouTube clips, as well as what my parents and family told me about the event.

I remember that one of the first things I learned about the events of September 11 was the staggering number of people who died as a result of the four hijacked plane crashes involved. The attacks left 2,977 dead, more than 25,000 injured and significant long-term health consequences. Just this week, I learned that scientists and DNA analysts are still examining bone and tissue fragments from the crash today to identify victims.

Another thing I recently got to look at was the actual footage of the planes hitting the towers. Having never seen anything like it and generally avoided looking at the actual footage, at 22, I felt old enough to handle the emotions I knew came from seeing something so heartbreaking.

Seeing the thousands of instant deaths that have occurred within seconds, I found myself thinking sadly about what it must have been like to have witnessed, or to have survived something like this, let alone to have been able to remember when that happened. . The surge of emotions I suddenly felt was indescribable, it was one of the few things I had seen online that made me take a minute to come together after watching.

Growing up at one time as a young adult, and later as an adult, in the post 9/11 United States, security and foreign relations have been the subject of constant policy conversations in my world. I have seen both failures and successes in government, and I know we have necessary changes to make if we are to help curb the efforts of groups looking to plan an attack like September 11.

We still have work to do if we are to make a difference in countries like Afghanistan, where the Taliban are now in power, which many, including myself, never expected to see in their lifetime. We will have to understand how to ensure the security of our own country and the new residents as we welcome Afghan immigrants, we will have to deal with foreign policy and how to create peace with a Taliban regime.

Deterrence of international terrorist threats is essential to peacekeeping, but examining domestic terrorism is also an important part of solving America’s problems with premeditated violence.

I may not have witnessed September 11, but I grew up in a world where terrorism and internal threats were a constant threat to be prepared for. I learned in classrooms and in a school with regular active shooting and bomb threat drills that were considered normal practice. As an adult I have seen the dangers and prejudices or violence motivated by beliefs in my own country, most often by my own fellow citizens.

My take on terrorism is not one that doesn’t have an Islamic or Afghan face, but one that can wear any face, even one that looks like mine. Time has shown that prejudice and prejudice can take many forms of violence, and September 11 remains an extreme example.

It’s easy to put a familiar face on something like terrorism because it’s worn that face a few times, but it’s important to remember that things are often not that simple. The more we can understand the reasons and motivations behind why something happened, the more we can educate ourselves and understand how to prevent it from happening.

When you paint a singular face on terrorism, it affects the rest of the group who share the characteristic traits of that group, and it creates a new cycle of prejudice. Defending the perpetrators of September 11 cannot and should not be done, they were and are terrorists who continue to deserve to be treated as such. But to portray every Afghan or practicing Islamist as a terrorist is unfair, just as you cannot label every white person who practices a particular religion or holds a particular belief as a white supremacist.

Being able to remember the horror of 9/11 while acknowledging the impact it has had on many groups socially over the past decades is an important part of understanding why something so hard to imagine could happen. produce. September 11th reminds me that prejudice and judgment should never dominate my life and that being kind and honoring the lives of lost people by educating myself is something to focus on.

My memory of September 11 is a memory of the lives lost, of the grief that will endure for the families of loved ones lost and those who still suffer from the pain of that horrible day. We have seen that change is needed, and honoring the lives of those lost on September 11 should include understanding how and why the horrific event happened, and what we can continue to do to prevent murders from happening. similar mass do not reproduce.

So this September 11, consider making a donation to the September 11 Memorial and Museum, or Tuesday’s Children, which has worked with at least three-quarters of the families of the victims and runs programs that include youth mentoring, referral. professional and mental health services. for first responders and children and spouses of victims.

You can also check out the Family of Freedom Scholarship Fund, which is part of Scholarship America, has provided over $ 150 million in scholarships to dependents of those killed or otherwise affected during the September 11 attacks and rescue efforts that followed.

There are also many ways to honor this historic day without your wallet, including reading or watching the incredible stories of survivors, first responders, and children of victims via National Public Radio specials and interviews. Their stories and voices are sure to inspire you.

I plan to read more about the first responders who risked and lost their lives during 9/11 and after. Their heroic efforts will never cease to amaze me, and I have always had such respect for first responders, and even considered being both a police officer and a firefighter when I was a young girl.

For this week, like every week, I will remain grateful for the life I have and the family and friends I donated. I couldn’t imagine my life without any of my friends, relatives, siblings, and appreciating them is the best thing I can think of. When we remember a day of such loss, celebrating life, love, and each other is what we should all do.


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