The terrorist attack on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the events that will set my generation apart from others in the minds of my children and grandchildren. The generations before me had the assassination of JFK, Vietnam, Korea, and Pearl Harbor to mark their generations along the timeline of the United States.
What legacy will my children see revealed from the hardships that we have faced over the past twelve years? What good, powerful and positive changes have we incorporated into our lives and the lives of others as a result of that day? It is not just another day on the calendar to pass through with the mindless action that sometimes overtakes our busy lives. Will my Grandchildren someday have as much disregard for this day, as I did as a child for Pearl Harbor Day?
I can without a doubt say that the course of my life was forever changed on the day that the Twin Towers fell. Most of my colleagues and friends are the same. But what about the rest of America? Does the everyday American realize any change? Or do they still wake to the same life they had before, content to passively support our country without any thought or deed. I would guess that there are millions of Americans who can go weeks, maybe even months, without thinking of 9-11 unless prompted by the media. When less than 2% of our citizens are members of the Armed Forces, does anyone else feel the continued sting of war as much as those who have faced the loss of friends and family through out the years that followed 9-11? How will I explain to my Son that the lives lost on that day and the days of war that followed are not just faceless numbers; that they are men, women and children who matter, who should be remembered. Not just one day a year, but every day.
The second and third order effects of 9-11 are still revealing themselves. I don’t know what my Grandchildren will think of my generation. I do not think we live up to the Greatest Generation, but we are not the least of these either. I pray that we can give them a world where we do not fear every stranger on the street or politician on the screen. Only time will tell if America will recover from the past 12 years.