10 Years Later: An Essay on Post 9/11 America


We now have 10 years between us and the events which re-shaped the U.S. forever. 10 years have passed and much has happened in between those years. The landscape and cultural structure of the U.S. has changed forever. Those events which scarred many Americans gave us a real life glimpse into the face of evil. Many lost loved ones, friends, family members, co-workers, and witnessed horrific sites of people jumping to their deaths and explosions in buildings where the implied reason made you conclude more deaths were occurring; contrast that with narrative of heroic acts aboard United Flight 93, people carrying the disabled down flights of stairs, brave firepersons giving their lives up for the masses, and the countless law enforcement officers who risked their lives to save people trapped below the rubble. Yes, lives and families were changed on that day 10 years ago. In a flash, it appeared that, the nation was united and coming together; but what unification was it? What were we actually coming together for? War? Peace? Revenge? Atonement?

Liz Sidoti in her captivating essay “9/11 Brought Us Together, But Was It Unity?” asks the timely question of national unity; moreover, she challenges the notion of “patriotism” in the context of violence and death. And, Sidoti places the idea of “unity” back in our faces 10 years after these events. She states, “We mourned together, raged together, resolved together. But it wasn't long before the perception of a united America gave way to the reality of division. Political polarization became the norm. And partisanship, gridlock and a loss of faith in institutions returned in force.” Are we that “together” and does patriotism always mean war and the ensuing deaths of our “enemies?” What is the “War on Terror?” And which “terror” are we actually fighting? Joseph Tuman reminds us that much of what we see communicated to us in the form of “terrorism” is socially constructed and he asserts that, “Terrorism today may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, but in truth, the practice of terrorizing for political, ideological, religious, and/ or economic purposes extends back many thousands of years and across many different cultures” (p.2 in Communicating Terror: The Rhetorical Dimensions of Terrorism. 2010.). Therefore, whose “terror” takes precedent? What does it take for the masses to take notice of “terrorism?” These are deep questions which lead to even deeper trails of thought in the realm of “terror.”

continue reading

9/11: Memorials, Heroes, and the absence of God.

As we approach the anniversary of 9/11, I have noticed some confusion within myself as to how to deal with the tragic events which occurred on that day ten years ago.  One is how we have identified that horrible day by numbers on the callendar instead of a name.  Perhaps this reflects our tech savy age?  Past generations do not identify with 12/7/41 or even 12/41.  What am I referring to?  The Bombing of Pearl Harbor, or perhaps “the day that will live in infamy”.   To prior generations, a day of national significance in our nation’s history marked merely by a number would resemble something more along the lines of communicating in morse code.  Althought 9/11 triggers a memory of what we experienced both collectively and individually, to identify the day with a date instead of a name leaves a certain amount of ambivalence.

continue reading

Expect Calamity, Believe in Hope

At breakfast in the cafeteria at Wheaton College on that Tuesday morning, someone I knew—I don’t even remember who—mentioned something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. In my mind I envisioned a tiny Cessna accidentally clipping the building. Didn’t think much of it. If this had happened in later years my phone would have been buzzing with texts and tweets telling me of the event’s magnitude. But this was 2001.

By lunch, I had seen it all on TV. Horrors my 18-year-old college freshman suburban self had no prior paradigm for. Planes full of people crashing into buildings full of people, collapsing them onto even more people. People on fire jumping to their deaths from heights unimaginable. The Pentagon attacked. Another plane down in Pennsylvania. Reports of a fire on the National Mall. Rumors that the Sears Tower was also targeted. In that moment, the worst was possible, even expected. What other disaster movie fictions would become reality before the day was done?

continue reading
Syndicate content

Bloggers in September 11


Sign-up for the Newsletter
Sign-up for the Newsletter
Get the latest updates on relevant news topics, engaging blogs and new site features. We're not annoying about it, so don't worry.