Recalling 11

By Emily Jacobs

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Daily Collegian – Sept. 9, 2011 | Daily Collegian – Sept. 12, 2001

Courtesy of MCT

I came home from school on the afternoon of Sept 11, 2001 and was greeted at the door by my father.
“We’re all going to go down into the basement in case a plane flies into our house,” he said cheerfully to me. I laughed, even though I thought that was an odd joke. “No, really,” he said.

“No, really; I’m not doing that. What are you talking about?” I responded, confused. He told me that some planes had been flown into buildings. I still thought he was joking, so I signed onto AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and saw that little window with AOL News that automatically opens. That was how I found out that America had been attacked.

At the time, I couldn’t believe they hadn’t told us in school. I was 11 years old and was shocked that my teachers would hide something so serious from us. Looking back, how could they have possibly explained that to a bunch of sixth graders? They probably didn’t even understand what had happened themselves.

Looking back now it becomes so obvious how drastically the world has changed since then. Of course, you can probably read a thousand editorials about how 9/11 changed American policy, the presidency and so on. However, just thinking about my first reaction – checking the news in AIM – we can see a huge shift. Who uses AIM anymore? Yet it was the center of my 11-year-old life.

Today, I would have immediately checked Twitter. Then I would have Facebooked about it and texted my friends. Would we have cell phone pictures of the hijackers? Would I have been able to read tweets from the people on the airplanes?

In my own life, so much has changed. At the time, my father greeted me at the door because he was unemployed. He was fortunate enough to get a new job just before the recession hit and has been fortunate enough to keep his job since then. At 11 years old, I wanted to be an oceanographer and was patiently waiting for my Hogwarts letter to arrive. Now, at 21, I am beginning a career in politics.

In some ways, 9/11 probably set events in motion that would lead to my new career goals. At that time, I was young enough to believe that unless everyone in town was flying an American flag, the terrorists had won. I remember watching the first bombs hitting Baghdad on the news in 2003 and I remember being a little confused about why we were in Iraq; after all, Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, wasn’t he? But, at 13, I believed the President knew what he was doing.

Like many people our age, the first time I ever really cared about politics was when George W. Bush was president and, like many people our age, I was angry about what he was doing. In hindsight, I actually had no idea what was going on, but it was trendy to hate Bush so I hated Bush.

Now that I’ve learned more about Bush’s policies, which were certainly affected by the 9/11 attacks, I still disapprove of many of them. Perhaps it was this frustration that grew into my passion for Democratic politics, which I am now hoping to turn into a career.

I say this as the former president of the University Democrats: I truly believe Bush did the best he could in response to the attacks. Was it good enough? Probably not.

I believe one of the biggest takeaways from the aftermath of the attacks is the importance of banding together as Americans. In the years ahead, my biggest hope for American politics is that we can resume having honest debates about the issues without questioning each other’s patriotism. I disagree with much of what Bush did, but I believe he loved this country.

We are in trying times, this is not news to anyone, but let us remember how we behaved in the aftermath of the attacks, that we stood united as Americans in the face of terror. Let us remember that we can disagree without doubting one another’s patriotism. Let us remember the Americans who ran into the burning Twin Towers and see that there is good in this world.

As long as we can maintain that spirit, the terrorists have not won.

Emily Jacobs is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]