I don’t know any other “real world”
None of my friends or relatives were directly affected by the attacks on September 11, 2001. I was just starting the fourth grade in North Carolina and, while I knew my parents were clearly worried about something, I didn’t really understand what they were talking about with each other. The attacks didn’t change the everyday life of fourth grader living hundreds of miles away from Lower Manhattan or the Pentagon. And, to be honest, most nine year old boys see images similar to collapsing buildings and crashing planes everyday in video games or television.
What I’m trying to get at is that I grew up not knowing any sort of pre-9/11 world. Kids my age are the first of a generation that has lived the majority of their lives after September 11, 2001. And the first of us are already approaching adulthood.
Yesterday, I took the time to listen to recently released audio recordings of the phone calls between officials in the air as the attacks were happening. It was eerie to hear people like air traffic controllers ask if the situation playing out, which they’re only hearing about over the phone or radio or on their computer monitors, was a drill or, in fact, “real world.” I’m sure many of the people watching what was happening that day shared similar disbelief. But, for the people who were born after the attacks or were too young to process what happened, there isn’t any other “real world.”
In her own reflections yesterday, Kathleen wrote that her generation was “[robbed] of an innocence and prosperity that would have certainly been challenged anyway.” Despite being only a few years older, I don’t think people my age ever really had that innocence. We’re the first generation in quite a while to grow up in an America that isn’t immune from the horrors of war playing out on her own soil…and I’m not quite sure how to take that.
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“We’re the first generation in quite a while to grow up in an America that isn’t immune from the horrors of war playing out on her own soil…and I’m not quite sure how to take that.”
You, of course, are hardly the first but there is a good chance you (your generation, not “you”) may have been the first generation in decades that has chosen to ignore the building threats to our security … it was not innocence that you lost but a nonsensical liberal worldview …
To me “impacted” means one of the casualties or evacuees of either WTC or Pentagon.
By an accident of timing I was 30 miles away from a workplace within sight of Congress and a short distance from the Pentagon. By memory the smoke was visible that day.
Washington as well as NYC was evacuated but with mass transit and bridge closures, actually similar to the discombobulation after “The Quake”.
My point is that the first comparisons were to “The Pearl Harbor Attack” that started WWII.
Later comparisons for the US was the civilian casualties of “The American Civil War”, from memory 50,000 civilian deaths of a total of 650,000 deaths on both sides.
That was 150 years ago not 50 years ago: World War II was a very major event, but a defined nation-state made a military attack on our military, and in the end surrendered unconditionally.
911 was zealots attacking us; Israel, India, and Andalusia were attacked because they were a part of the caliphate between seven and twelve centuries ago. We were attacked because we support Republics with religious and political freedom.
I think the era where Youth were “immune from the horrors of war” was a pretty short one. We had war on US soil in the late 1700’s the early 1800’s, mid 1800’s. We had hijackings in the ’70s… and the threat of Global Nuclear Annihilation throughout the Cold War into the ’80s.
I think the period after any War, the initial Peace, is a time when folks get the mindset that “It’s Over”, like after the War to End All Wars, or after WWII… After Vietnam… After the Soviet Union collapsed. It’s weird that people would be so naive as a group, but not uncommon. Basically, you’re normal, and your age group is finding out what most other have: It’s your turn, it can happen here… anytime. Yeah, it sucks… but it’s nothing like having to live in Ireland in the ’70s, or France in the ’40s, or Iran… well, ever.
Every generation thinks it is the “first”.
Sorry to break the news, but your grandparents may well have been born into depression,;seen their fathers, older brothers and neighbors off to WWII, while experiencing nightly air raid drills and blackouts–and rationing of course. They may have fought in Korea, and if not there Viet Nam. In their own youth they had the nuclear threat, with a variety of alarms (Cuban missile crisis) hanging over their heads.
Tell you the truth, the past ten years has looked a lot like business as usual to me–unless you served or had a loved one serving in the military.
No, there was maybe one “generation” between the cold war and the rising awareness of the reach of global terrorism. They had it easy, perhaps, but were as children. This is the world.