I still remember that Tuesday morning like it had been last week. As a junior in high school, I was just starting my day when I walked into my pre-calculus class. A classmate told me that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Towers. Questions raced through my mind. Was this an accident? If so, how did this happen? Then, the second plane hit, and I said it aloud: “This is a terrorist attack.” For the rest of the day, in every class, we watched the events unfold. From a small town in Minnesota, I watched the coverage as one tower fell, then another. It was awesome and awful, all at the same time. By the end of the month, we had troops in Afghanistan, and, soon after, the Department of Homeland Security was created. Eighteen months after 9/11, we were invading Iraq where, again, I was the events unfold on television.
September 11th, 2001 literally changed the entire world. It created a new enemy in extreme Islam and has lead to a Quran burning by pastor Terry Jones nine years later as a 9/11 memorial. Arguments about a mosque near ground zero still rage on even though the first amendment guarantees freedom of religion. Still, others, known as truthers, claim that 9/11 wasn’t a terrorist attack at all but an elaborate conspiracy to sway opinion in favor of war. They argue that the towers fell by demolition, and that a cruise missile struck the Pentagon. The last place was shot down. While I find the truther’s stances to be ridiculous, questions about our security are important. Even now, it’s difficult to say if we are any safer than we were before 9/11, and I don’t think the world has changed for the better because of 9/11.
One thing is for certain. Antagonizing Muslims by burning their holy book as a 9/11 memorial and complaining about a mosque near ground zero does not help anything. If anything, it shows that this country has gone nowhere since that day, nine years ago. Although the book burning has been called off, it doesn’t change the fact that it was going to happen. After nine years, we are still fighting in Afghanistan. More people have died in combat than died at the World Trade Towers. We pushed the Taliban out of power, but we still haven’t caught Osama bin Laden (if he was actually in Afghanistan). He is almost certainly dead now. Security may be better at airports, but we’ve detained innocent people without due process because of supposed terrorist ties. They suffer in a cell while receiving no trial. Instead of extending an olive branch, we attacked anything that moved. 9/11 has changed the United States and, probably, the world for the worse, and, hopefully, we can begin anew and start to change it for the better by not attacking Islam and fixing our own problems before we go fight in another one.