Did You Think Life Was Going To Be Different?

Of course, the big topic of discussion today is 9/11. So, it would only be right to write a little bit about the subject seeing how it is the fifth anniversary of the event.

This morning in my Newswriting class we discussed what we felt like and what we were doing at the moment we first heard the news of the attacks. The first thing I realized in class was that I was old, much older than the other students in there. I am a 5th year senior in a sophomore level class. Many of my classmates were 14 at the time of the attacks. I was 17. I think the way we viewed the event was much different. And I had never thought about what 9/11 was like for people younger than me. There is a more-than-marginal age difference between 14 and 17. What was going through these kids minds? I know I can never fully grasp the answer to this question.

Our professor’s main question was, “Did you think that life was going to be different at that moment?” I told him I remember thinking that it would be. I had never imagined anything like an attack within the U.S. borders. Change was a big thing on my mind at the time. I was a senior in high school. I was preparing myself for change, for college, for a different life ahead. What might be different about the world after that day, I didn’t know; but I did feel like change was coming.

Luckily, there wasn’t much change. One of Bush’s goals was to maintain a sense of normalcy, and that seemed to work out for the most part. What did change, for a while, was America’s sense of patriotism. I watched people stand proudly, stiff, at the sound of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” people who had trouble taking their hats off at sporting events pre-9/11. We did get that, a sense of patriotism.

So, what were these other students thinking about? I’m still not sure, really. Most of us were in some kind shock. It didn’t matter whether we were 14 or 17 or 50, for that matter. The things that they recalled about 9/11 were the same things I recalled. We were at school. We watched TV all day. And if you got to watch TV all day instead of work, then something life-altering was happening. For once, our lives departed from the usual teenage chatter of girls about boys and boys about girls to what was actually going on outside the locker-lined hallways. We were forced to grow up, if only for a day.

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