“September 11, a year later. What have we learned?”

"The most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her children."It’s been a year now since four airplanes were hijacked, crashing into both the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the heliport side of the Pentagon, as well as a field in Pennsylvania. Throughout the past year, we’ve seen the images of the World Trade Center towers collapsing countless times, heard stories from those who survived the attacks, and watched as airport security was given a much-needed upgrade in response to the attacks. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are something that we will never forget. Everyone alive that day will remember where they were when they learned of the attacks. But what have we learned from the experience? The short of it is, we’ve learned a lot from it. Some of these things have been frightening and disheartening, such as the realization that we as a country do not live in a bubble, separate from the rest of the world, and that there are certain extremists who want to do us harm solely for being Americans. In addition, we soon learned that several thousand human lives were extinguished on that day, causing hardship to untold numbers of people around the world. However, for every frightening and disheartening thing we learned, often we learned something truly heartwarming. Before September 11, our culture was very “all about me”. In the aftermath of the attacks, we saw a very generous outpouring of support for those directly and indirectly affected by the attacks. Blood donation lines were out the door and down the street in many locations. For those who were unable to give blood, people opened up their wallets and gave money to help individuals who had lost their jobs as a result of the attacks, and to help the families who lost loved ones in the attacks. In addition, while we previously thought of athletes or movie stars and such as heroes, we learned who our country’s real heroes are – the firefighters, police officers, and other rescue workers, who gave their lives so others wouldn’t have to. We also learned that despite outward appearances at times, Americans love America, and are proud of their identity as Americans, as many of us have seen more American flags in the course of this past year than we had ever seen before in our entire lifetimes. Another thing that has come out of the attacks is a better understanding of the cultures of those around us, particularly that of Muslims. While it’s true that the hijackers on September 11 were Muslim, we’ve learned that their interpretation of Islam is not the norm by any means, as Islam is a religion that is tolerant of others’ beliefs, a religion that sees women as individuals in their own right, and a religion that prohibits harming civilians in the event of war, which in itself is the action of last resort. We’ve learned a lot in the year following the September 11 attacks, and now at the anniversary of the attacks, let’s take a moment to remember those who were lost, and work to prevent another tragedy in the future.

Date posted: September 9, 2002

Notes: Information about the Muslim faith came from the Web site IslamiCity.com.