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What Has Changed Since That Day?

September 9, 2011

The world seemed to fall apart that day. Really, it did fall apart that day. In the ten years since, we have put it back together, but the majority of that train of thought is for another day. The blog on this Friday is to examine what has changed since that day, and it is a lot.

  • Airport security, it is one of the changes that has been huge over the last ten years. It is also what I think has been one of the most visible changes, but also the one that has kept evolving. It seems there is always a new story on the news about the latest change. You have to have a boarding pass to get back to the terminal now. Only liquids that are less than a certain  # of ounces, and they all must be together in a clear bag. No mace, nothing with a sharp edge that could be a weapons are allowed. You have to take your shoes off going through the line. Heck, they have even invented these full body scanners that take practically a full x-ray of you. We have sky marshals on flights And you know what, I don’t mind any of that. While I think the staff working need to be respectful and nice, I don’t mind if it takes me longer to get through security so that I can be safe on a plane from a terrorists.
  • War. A little more than a month after the attacks we were in a war with the Taliban government in Afghanistan. While we have knocked that group down at first, and helped elected a new democratic government, that group is not gone and the war still wages. We went to war in Iraq as a result of heightened tensions after 9/11. While that war has ended, some of troops still remain. I remember a year after 9/11 and in the several immediate years that followed writing letters, emails and instant messages at times, but many snail mail letters to family members or friends who were stationed in those war zones. About a year ago I actually lost a friend I had known years ago back in the Fort, he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Last I heard, we had lost well over 5,000 soldiers in these ten years of war. How many families have been impacted by that? Or even on a larger scale of war and being overseas… how many families have weathered that storm as their loved ones have fought to protect?
  • Anthrax. I didn’t know what Anthrax was before the fall of 2001, but now I know it is a chemical weapon basically. Terrorist… whether foreign or homegrown, seem to like to put it in the mail. It is a white powder and is a poison, so you don’t know you are opening poison when you open your mail. Sneaky bastards. But now a lot of people who sort mail wear gloves to help protect them… I don’t think you saw people wearing purple latex gloves as they sorted mail in a pre 9/11 world.
  • Department of Homeland Security. US Department created to help secure and protect our nation at home after the attacks. Immigration is also lumped in there now, but I know them for two things. 1) They started that color-coding threat alert system that is now defunct. It always seemed to stay at orange because we are always in a heightened level of security. I actually kind of liked it, but it seemed to confuse a lot of people, so they scraped it. 2) This is the department that seems to give out a lot of money in grants or awards to local government to help strengthen security, and I guess that makes sense. But yep, that is what I know about the department!
  • Sharing of Information. There seems to be a more general sharing of information between groups that coordinate security. Even as a little old civilian I can see this. The head of the Dept. of Defense is the former head of the CIA. When we hire someone at work we have to go through an online system to verify that they are an actual US citizen, and when you do that their actual passport or some other picture of them pops up on the screen… they have to get that stuff somewhere. We also know that a number of potential attacks have been halted before they happened, and part of that is everyone from the local police to the FBI actually trying (I doubt it always works) to work together.
  • Heighted security in general. It is not just airports where we are more aware of security. In high profile buildings and sites, there are restricted areas inside and outside of the buildings. You can’t turn down certain streets or get to close to buildings… all over the country. At college football games you go through security at times, heck even at Disney World. There is just more security everywhere and it is part of life now.
  • Building design. They are building a new skyscraper in lower Manhattan, it will be the tallest building in the US when it is finished. From all of the stories they have shown, they have really re-examined how to build these buildings to make them more secure. Instead of the metal support beams being on the outside, it is a structure in the center of the building. They build level by level now, not so much a giant frame. Also, the glass on the outside is a new type of glass that is supposed to help against disasters (I clearly was only partly tuning in when that was on the news this morning).
  • Loss of privacy. We have had to crack down on terrorists after 9/11 and that has clearly lead to a loss of privacy for a lot of Americans. The government having names on a list of potenail terrorists, just based on their names. They can listen in on phone calls without a warrants, they can track finances, they can even know what  books are checked out at the library. I can honestly say I don’t know HOW I feel about this. I hate how people who aren’t doing anything wrong are watched or judged, but how to do you balance that with trying to stop those who want to hurt us? That is a tough situation that I don’t have the answer for.

So, September 11th has changed our way of living in many ways. These are just a few of the ones that I had thought about as we are approaching this anniversary. What are yours?

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