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Ten Years, My how I have changed…

September 10, 2011

As we approach the anniversary I have to acknowledge how the attacks of 9/11 have changed me, and I have to admit they have had a significant impact on me… more than I knew at the time.

–          Late in that summer Gail, Sara, Michelle and I had started to talk about doing a big trip to Europe the next summer. We were so excited, we were going to see Europe and be young and carefree. Then 9/11 happened. We had so many conversations that fall… we couldn’t go, someone could kill us, our planes could be shot down, our trains blown up… there were so many fears, so very many fears. We talked about the Caribbean, or even Florida, something closer to home. This debate went on for months. Finally, we decided… screw the terrorists, if we didn’t GO, that would be letting the assholes win. We booked our flights that January, and in May 2002 we jetted off to Europe. We went to spite every one of those bastards in the best way our 19 and 20 year-old selves could, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fears in the back of my mind.

Screw the terrorists, we are following through on our plans and going to Europe!

–          I have always been afraid to fly, I had never like it before 9/11 and I hate it even more after the attacks. I logically know however that we have much tighter security now, but I still pray before I walk on a plane.

–          I can’t believe I am going to admit this, but a part of me racially profiles now. Just for a split second I have those horrible thoughts. When I am in an airport, I look at people from the Middle East and wonder if they are terrorists. As soon as I have this thought, I mentally slap myself. Literally, I have a mental argument with myself that I am being horrible person and they not every person from the Middle East is a terrorist. Think of YOUR friends who are from the Middle East. Think of the terrorists who are homegrown, snap out of it. And I do, but I hate that I even have those thoughts, I am so sorry to all of those people that I do. That is one way 9/11 has changed me and not for the better.

–          On the same token, minus those brief and horrible thoughts I have at airports, I am so much more open to other cultures and ideas. I try to learn about new people and understand where they are coming from, their backgrounds and points of view… I try to be more open, and I try to challenge others to be as well. I try, I make a valiant and good faith effort to do so… I try to be more open, caring and understanding.

–          I pay attention to my surrounding a lot more. I look for the emergency exits when I am at a concert venue, I know how to get out of an office, I know where to duck if I need to duck… a part of this was exacerbated by the Virginia Tech shootings (I do work on a college campus) but it started with 9/11.

–          I am not just aware of my surroundings, but I pay a whole hell of a lot more to what is happening in the world. What the threat levels are, what the major news stories are, but what the smaller ones are as well. I don’t want to be surprised or have never heard of someone/ group if something ever happens again.

–          I appreciate my country and my freedom a whole hell of a lot more. I realize that people have fought and died for me to live the life that I do, and I love my life. And I am so very grateful for the people who fought for me to live it.

I am sure there are other ways that I have changed as a result of that day, but that is what I can think of at the moment. I still can’t believe it has been ten years.

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