September 11, 2011: A Personal Look at Ten Years of Change — and Paranoia

The clock has ticked ten years since the al-Qaeda terrorists took over airplanes of sorts and used them as weapons of mass destruction.  First, the first tower, the North Tower, of the World Trade Center was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46 in the morning.  Thereafter, at 9:03 AM, Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. At 9:37, Flight 77 crashes into the west side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.  Later, at 10:03 AM, United Airline Flight 93 is halted from its final destination of the United States Capitol building or the White House and crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

I remember the complete astonishment, waking up to the news…the news of the first crash.  Was I dreaming or having an utter nightmare?  I had finished my temporary assignment for OfficeTeam, directing buses full of vacationers at Arch Street. Upon watching the news of the second crash, I was awake and aghast.  All I could see was chaos on the streets of New York from the television cameras as people attempted to flee the building.  The crash on the Pentagon, however, set waves of distress.  My mother worked there sometimes on assignment, and I called her at work with no answer.  I called again…and still no answer.  At 9:59 AM, the first tower began collapsing, and I was hoping that more people would escape the vicinity of these unsightly disasters. The streets were filled with chaos still as residents of New York fled outward. The second tower collapsed at 10:28 AM. Then-President George Bush gave political-speak to assuage the American public, but nothing could be further from the truth.  By this time, at around 1:00 in the afternoon, I finally hear from my mother.  She did not take an assignment at the Pentagon or anywhere near it.

Fast-forward ten years, security at airports has the been the most significant change.  With the advent of high-tech scanners and pat-downs by airport officials now commonplace, it will take few and far in between to hijack airplanes to use as weapons of mass destruction.  Yesterday, even Amtrak was in high alert and employed stringent security checks.  Now, stringent checks to obtain a new passport is incredible that it has reached a point of irrationality.  I understand the meaning of these checks, but there should be some rational balance.  The security guards are now prejudice against everyone with little disregard to the some of those caught in unfortunate circumstances.  The high-security has fallen into the workplace soon after 9-11 as well with too much concern about security and not enough about the actual person, the actual worker.

In light of this, in my opinion, most Americans remain generally apathetic to each other and those around them.  For some, their paranoia has turned to viciousness and blatant prejudice. Whether 9-11 transitions into a national holiday, that remains to been, but if politics has anything to do with it, it will.  The first-responders originally on the scene should be honored, but it would be a grave insult to continually remind the American public each year of the disaster.

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