About Me

My photo
I was born, I'm currently living, and will eventually die. After that I face my judgment, and we'll talk then.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago, I was a Sophomore in High School. I went to a Catholic High School located just outside Washington DC in Virginia. Nine years ago today, I was sitting in class, Religion class, if I remember correctly. During Second Period, someone from the office came over the loud speaker and said, in a very serious voice, that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. That was all they told us.

Oh. I thought. That's sad for that pilot, thinking they were referring to a small personal craft. Why are they announcing it? Was it someone related in some way to the school? We said a prayer, but I at least wasn’t really sure what was happening.

Now even though it has only been a short time since then, everything about that day is a blur. The events from that second period to the end of the day are mixed up and unclear. But I’ll try and remember.

By Third Period we had confirmation that it was an airliner, and that there were two now. By 4th Period we were watching the news, catching a glimpse of endless smoke pouring out of the buildings. Ever so often, a child was called to go home. One by one, the classes dwindled. Schoolwork? Some of the teachers thought about it, but gave in, and turned on the TVs. We soon heard about the Pentagon, since we were so close to it. We sat in class and watched the screen. Down the first tower fell. Down it went, as if it were nothing more than a stack of cards.

Through all of this, I only had a vague understanding of what was happening. I couldn’t shake Pearl Harbor out of my mind. I knew how my grandparents felt. I knew what it was like to witness an attack on America happen, to experience the unsure horror of it all. I remained at school the entire day. Once I got home, I hugged my mom. The news was on the rest of the day. We heard Bush address the nation, and hoped that everything would be better soon.

And here we are today. My generation has been defined by that day. The so-called “Millennium Generation,” also called “Generation Y,” include all those who were born between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s, old enough to witness the 9/11 attacks first hand. That is our legacy. I am defined by that day of horror. And it is true. Look at the world around us, look at popular culture, of the political sphere, of recent American history, of religion and ecumenism, of international relations. The events of 9/11 have scared these realms. No where is safe. Men have made careers based on the events which unfolded that day. I’m not referring to military members, although anyone in the military between 9/11/2001 in some way owes their career to the attacks, and subsequent military force.

Look at the world of Pop Culture. Michael Moore, director of quite possibly the most influential documentary in recent years, 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, has revitalized his career as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Bowling for Columbine, although it only mentions the attacks briefly, connects the violence that day with the violence in this country’s recent history. Moore’s follow up film, Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), focuses on the controversy (“Controversy. . . What Controversy?”) surrounding the attacks and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, particularly by connecting President Bush’s family and Osama bin Laden’s family. It became the highest grossing documentary ever, and has cemented Moore as the documentary filmmaker for the liberal world. He is loved by some, hated by many, but unless he completely bombs at the box office (his most recent film, Capitalism: A Love Story, grossed over $14 million domestically), he will continue his rather successful career.

Likewise the music world has become saturated with anti-Bush songs, as well as pro-America songs (the latter mostly found on country music stations). The human struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks bled into the natural disaster which was Hurricane Katrina. Both were blamed on President Bush and his policies. One need only listen to the American Idiot album by Green Day or Minutes to Midnight by Linkin Park to see such anger against the former president.

Many books and countless news articles have appeared, all because of the attacks and the history afterwards. It has become the standard, it seems, to hold Bush’s views following the attacks as wrong, and indeed they were not entirely correct. But the anger, the outrage which has persisted these last 9 years paints America as a country against itself. Having traveled to Europe, I know that, like us, they get the vast majority of their view of America from the popular culture. Who are Americans? We are the violent, pill popping, sex crazed monsters which infect our screens. We are closer to Hell than anyone in Heaven. This is our national portrait.

But that is not us. As the true history of our country these last 9 years shows, in the soldiers who have fought and died in the Middle East, in the men who have seriously taken charge when the road became rough, in those who remained faithful despite having seen their faith despised, we are not those monsters who inhabit our movies and TVs. We are better than that. We are the country that stood against our attackers and fought back. We are the country that said NO to another force of evil. We are the country that turned the tragedy of 9/11 into the a glimmer of hope. While we may not have done it as gracefully as one could, we did it.

So it does seem appropriate, then, that such an important event, my generation’s Vietnam, would define us as a nation. We are strong, we are brave, we are charitable. As much as men deny Christ, He informs us, making us the nation we are today.

Nine years ago, I never would have thought such a thought. I think it here today.