Reflections from the post 9/11 generation

By Kaitlyn McCormick

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday left most Americans recounting where they were and what they were doing on the day that altered the country forever, but for many young adults, this day of reflection marks the beginning of the only environment they have ever known. 

Today’s college-aged students have no recollection, if they were even alive, of a time before tragedy struck American soil and changed virtually every facet of life. The fear and underlying anxiety of being raised in a post-terror-attack society has permeated an entire generation.

Sophomore elementary education major, Emili Dimoski, explained the phenomenon of trying to resonate with an event that her generation didn’t experience.

 “We only know post 9/11 … We don’t have the same perspective or emotional connection that older generations do when remembering it,” said Dimoski.

Young adults in this age group don’t have the luxury of looking back at a simpler time where their nation was at peace, rather, only the constant reminder in the back of their minds that there is always potential for tragedy. These students have been raised in a nation that is understandably guarded after the loss of not only 2,977 people, but an overwhelming sense of security 20 years ago. 

“All I know is what other people have told me about it,” said Dimoski.

When it comes to the fear of another terror attack happening in her lifetime and the general caution that has become normalized for this generation, Dimoski reflected on what that day in 2001 might have felt like for educators and how they must have handled such a profoundly sad and terrifying situation while also being responsible for the wellbeing of the children in their care.

“Because I want to be a teacher, I think a lot about how those things would affect my students,” said Dimoski.

When asked how the impacts of 9/11 are experienced in the newer generation, sophomore music major Bella Nakum said, “We don’t know what it’s like to not constantly be looking over our shoulders.” This could not be closer to the truth. Although every United States citizen has been affected by and adapted to a post-tragic society, for today’s young adults, there is no time before which they can compare.

However, issues of national security and newfound fears of attacks that may have seemed unfathomable decades ago are not the only repercussions of Sept. 11.

Although many people use this anniversary to reflect on the perceived unity that weaved throughout the country after this tragedy, an undeniable consequence is the suspicion, discrimination and danger faced by Muslim, Middle Eastern and racially ambiguous Americans in the aftermath of the terror attacks. A demographic of people who, like any citizen, were affected by the events of Sept. 11 as an American were also, and continue to be, subject to racism and xenophobia in its wake.

Nakum, who uses she/they pronouns, is British Asian and typically refers to themself as Brown. She talked about the experiences of racially diverse Americans in the climate following Sept. 11, saying “they don’t feel safe in their own country anymore, but not for the reason everyone would think.”

Nakum depicted the worry her family faces during seemingly normal activities, like traveling.

 “We are scared that my dad would be held back at an airport, and he has been … My dad deliberately dresses a certain way to go to an airport,” said Nakum.

When the anniversary of 9/11 comes around, the unique experiences of people of color often get overlooked and whitewashed when reflecting on this tragedy’s aftermath. Although Nakum is too young to recall the details of that day, its effect on racism is something that their family has experienced firsthand.

The emotions surrounding this anniversary were undoubtedly complicated. There is a deep sadness in the monumental loss of life as well as the disruption of a country’s sense of security, especially as many grieve for a version of a nation they were not even alive to participate in.

This editorial expresses the unanimous opinion of The Rider News Editorial Board. This week’s editorial was written by Opinion Editor Kaitlyn McCormick

Originally printed in the 9/15/21 issue.

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