Eleven years later they do not call us that. In some countries they erect one monument to tragedy; in America we erected monuments in every airport. Scanners and x-ray machines that stand as a constant reminder of the attack. Our remembrance ritual involves removing our shoes and emptying our luggage. We gave-up rights, toppled a regime, and chased Osama Bin Laden to the far corners of the Earth to exact revenge. Yet they still don’t call us the 9-11 generation. It’s not because we are free, but because we are not scared anymore.
Despite this we have grown-up in the shadow of this tragedy without growing out of it. Eleven years later the liberties we gave-up to allow the government to fight terror are still gone. Our warriors still roam Afghanistan. We still speak of fighting the war on terror without any sense of when we might win it. We achieved important victories without much reflection on whether it might be time to move on from security theater in airports or strengthening due process protections. To our credit we got out of Iraq and will soon be out of Afghanistan but we still have to think about how we want to live. Do we need the security blanket of getting everything x-rayed and body scanned before we go on an airplane?
The fear does not linger, but these monuments do. In eleven years our world has changed. We have changed. Soon we will be out of Afghanistan. It seems our intelligence and military services are so effective that the operations of the terrorist organizations across the world have been severely hampered if not eliminated. We have not suffered an attack on the homeland in many years. Justified or not, I feel safer; I feel ready to move on.
The The 9-11 Generation by Matt Zagaja, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.