A reflection on 9/11

Joshephine Miller

This upcoming week America faces a big challenge: commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The challenge lies in organizing the thoughts and memories of an entire country about an event so big and so ugly.

I was 10 years old when the Twin Towers went down, and I remember every detail of that day, as I’m sure the rest of you all do too. I’ve been thinking about it for a decade now and I still don’t know how to feel about it.

I have no qualms about calling the hijackers terrorists; they committed acts of pure evil where peaceful protest would have sufficed. I find it reasonable to hate them, even though I know that I am at my worst when I am feeling hateful. But I also think that America, as a nation, has responded to this event in the poorest, least constructive manner possible.

The launch of former president George W. Bush’s “War on Terror” was misguided and poorly executed and has dug this country into a hole we will spend the next 50 years climbing out of.

The USA PATRIOT Act has acted as a catalyst for eroding the civil rights that this country was founded to protect. The ever-increasing hatred toward the entire Muslim community continues to leave a terrible taste in my mouth and has fostered a repulsive brand of xenophobia that makes me ashamed of many of my fellow citizens.

If we could just look back on that single day, this would all be very easy; we all know how we feel about it. But Sunday we have to look back on the day of the attacks and every single day since, considering each of the United States’ reactions to the 9/11 attacks and how they have altered the course of history.

We’ve made so many important decisions since that day and I have regrets about every one. I’m not proud of what my country has done to honor 9/11’s fallen. And that doesn’t make me any less of a patriot, nor does it make my reflections on that day any less painful or sincere.

I fear that this day will turn into an unsavory rally-around-the-flag celebration that will make us too afraid to condemn those who have co-opted the word patriotism and turned it into a narrow word that means squaring your personal beliefs with those of an overly aggressive regime.

I hope that the commemoration leaves room for respectful dissent and that my fellow classmates and citizens will reflect on this past decade with discrimination and good sense before surrendering their critical faculties to grief.