By Yousaf Quereshi
My mother was a 15 year old Sophomore attending New Albany High School on September 11, 2001. I don’t think that she was ever really worried about anything in the world, especially on that day, except for maybe passing math class so that she could eventually graduate high school. That was the story of most American teenagers living in the early 2000s⸺absorbed in their immediate surroundings and worried only about their own lives. However, September 11 would awaken everyone, including my mother, to the dangers of living in the world and the interconnectedness of everyone.
At 8:46 in the morning, the first hijacked plane flew into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. It was apparent that a terrible accident had happened in New York City. Then, 17 minutes later, the second hijacked plane flew into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. This wasn’t an accident⸺this was deliberate. America was under attack. The Pentagon was attacked not long after, and a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly three thousand people died immediately as a result of the attacks…and thousands more died as a result of it. But September 11 had consequences for those who survived as well. For many Americans, the attacks on September 11 awoke the sleeping dragon of fear. Fear about living in a dangerous globalized world that most people had forgotten about since the attacks on Pearl Harbor when President Franklin D. Roosevelt had told us that the only thing we had to fear was “fear itself”.
But now, it’s been twenty years since 9/11, so why should we still remember? Why should high school students who weren’t alive during 9/11, like my mother had been on 9/11, continue to remember this event?
We should remember to honor the men and women who died in the World Trade Center Towers and on the hijacked planes. We should remember to honor the first responders to the attacks. We should remember to honor the survivors of the attacks and the families of the fallen.
We must continue to remember 9/11 to honor the loss, the rescue, the fear, and the hope of that tragic day. You didn’t have to be alive for 9/11 to remember the horror and the heroes. We remember so that we will never forget what happened on that day, and how we overcame it as Americans.
Now, twenty years after 9/11, America is under attack again. The terror of the Covid-19 pandemic has killed and continues to kill innocent Americans and first responders everyday, leaving behind long haul survivors and grieving families. Although Americans may not always agree on politics, when our homeland is under attack and innocent American lives are lost, I have hope that we will put aside our differences, and come together as we did during 9/11 to overcome any existential threat, including a global virus.
Readers: Remember 9/11. For the good it brought, for the bad. For the very ugly. I will always remember and be moved by the fact that this nation could come together on that day, forget differences and pray for each other, remove hate from our hearts and build compassion within our souls. Remembering 9/11 elevates the belief that we can exist as a unified American people, to pass on our love and care to those we hold dear and those we lost. Why can’t we be that country again?