It's that time of year again when we mourn the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and honor those we call heroes. I was three when the Twin Towers came crashing down. I remember that day like it happened yesterday because I sat with my Granny, on her birthday as we watched a pivotal moment in US history.
But for many people my age, they do not remember where they were or how the felt on this day nearly 20 years ago. And even for those that remember the moment, they don't remember their world pre-9/11.
1. The need to feel connected
Each time 9/11 is mentioned I remember my family talking about how they never felt like they needed a cell phone before this tragic event. Sure, phones were a thing, but never had they felt that they needed to contact somebody so quickly that a cell phone was needed.
I can hear my Mom say how the entire family went out and bought phones directly after the attack. From that moment forward, fear was a constant.
Maybe, this is the reason that today we feel the need to be constantly connected. Perhaps society hasn't changed because of media, but media surged to meet the needs of society. We are terrified that another horrific moment will happen. And this fear isn't without reason. Almost daily we hear of some act of terrorism. But is media used as a fear tactic? Is our fear driving extreme nationality?
2. Emphasis on security
And because of this fear we've become a country that ignores all needs of privacy in the name of national security. Fear has motivated us to ignore the way in which we are examined and dissected based on our motivations. At airports, our personal belongings are searched, our bodies patted down. Even children are under suspicion.
But this doesn't happen at just airports. We roam through security at concerts, parades, festivals, and even schools. It has been common that only "small bags" are allowed at many public events due to the constant fear of bombings.
It isn't only physical security that has taken over our lives. We are now willing to give the government whatever information they want about our personal lives. We accept and expect extensive background checks. But has anybody asked why they need our personal information or what they are doing with that information? Is our fear blinding us?
3. What it means to be white in America
But the largest way in which America has changed is by its definition of what it means to be white in America. Before 9/11, people from the Middle East were perceived as white. Today, all Middle Easterners are lumped together in the "other" category.
Now, a hijab or a burka is a red flag. A turban has become synonymous with a terrorist. The few have made the many a target and a perceived threat. It has become a danger to even appear like you're anything other than the "true white." In the name of "security" in tandem with "fear" as an excuse, innocent lives are being jeopardized.
So this year, remember those lives lost, honor your heroes, but also acknowledge the way this day drastically changed the lives of Americans.