There are certain events that create everlasting memories for an entire generation. Our grandparents will never forget Aug. 6, 1945. On this summer day an atomic bomb, ironically labeled “Little Boy,” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan causing widespread death and destruction. Eternally stamped in the memories of our parents is the death of two iconic historical figures: Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 and John F. Kennedy Jr. on Nov. 22, 1963. To our elders, these were special moments in which everyone is able to recall the who, what, when, where and why of their exact location. To Generation Y, this day is Sept. 11, 2001, commonly known as 9/11.
Recalling where you were when you found out about the proceedings of 9/11 is only the first step to truly understanding the entire tragedy. Most people found out as I did: you heard about the first plane, then the second plane, then the third plane and so on and so forth. If you were anything like me, finding out about the actual events of 9/11 was only the beginning. It was after the dust settled and the information became visible that the real questioning began. Who were Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda? What was the goal of these attacks? What was the United States going to do now?
In the next 10 years, the events of 9/11 will be interpreted and re-interpreted. Maybe you believe it was an act of cold-blooded murder, a religious issue, an oil issue or a modernization issue. Conspiracy theorists run rampant with 9/11, and a Google search of “reasons for 9/11” will receive many hits. Personally, the only common theme I found to the acts of 9/11 was confusion. Why was the death of so many innocent civilians necessary to deliver a message to American society?
9/11 has affected race and religious relations, airport security and started wars. More than that, though, it has breached the warm fuzzy feeling Americans have about their carefree, ambitious and individualistic attitudes. Gone is their sense of security, replaced with the haunting memory of how easily it was breached on that fateful September morning. How will you tell your kids about 9/11? What details will you include or exclude? Who will be the main characters of your recount? And most importantly, where were you on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001?
Chelsea James is a volunteer contributor to the Manitoban.