By Jason Menard
Ten years ago, terrorists tried to change the world. Today I can say that – for most of us – their efforts were a failure, as we have come through relatively unscathed.
Ten years ago today, a group of radical terrorists commandeered four planes: two of which were steered into – and ultimately brought down – the twin towers of the World Trade Center; one was flown into the Pentagon; and the other was brought down in a field near Shanksville, PA, by civilian passengers before it could reach its intended destination.
It’s hard to put this sentiment into the right words at the risk of sounding like an insensitive ass. Bear with me, though. In the end, the impact on my life has been minor. Yes, I have to pay a little more attention when I pack for a flight, and there’s no more driving into the U.S. without my passport, but for the most part the events of Sept. 11, 2001 have not reached me.
I know how fortunate I am that I didn’t know anyone who died in the attacks or as a result of the aftermath. Over the years I’ve been touched by the stories of kids growing up without parents as a result of the 9/11 murders. And, to this day, I cannot rationalise the presence of that much evil in this world.
But I can honestly say nothing in my life has been dramatically impacted by 9/11. I would hazard a guess to say that most people, if they’re honest with themselves, are like me and the personal impact of September 11th is restricted to images on a TV or computer screen.
This is not to undermine the terrible anguish that the friends and family of the 2,996 people who died as a result of this event must be feeling (and, yes, I’m including the 19 hijackers – they too had families who were innocent victims). It is, however, intended to highlight the futility of this effort and the senseless loss of innocent lives that resulted from it.
My views towards people of Middle-Eastern descent have not changed. I am not one to paint an entire group of people based upon the actions of a few misguided souls. Others have not been so generous, but here again is an example of the terrorists’ failure.
Intending to bring down Western society, the terrorists instead brought about a better understanding of each other in the days since. We’re not perfect and there are those who will never give up their xenophobic ways (in much the same way that there are those who continue to hold onto hateful racist and homophobic beliefs), but there’s a much better dialogue today than there was 10 years ago. Instead of tearing us apart, the terrorists have brought many in the East and West closer together. I don’t find myself living in fear, worried that I’ll be targetted for my Western way of life. On a daily basis, I do not think about what these terrorists wanted me to think about.
Ten years ago today, my generation experienced its Kennedy assassination. Sure, we had the Challenger explosion, but we were too young to truly understand. This example of the worst that humanity has to offer played out right in front of our TV screens.
I was at work. My wife, under a month shy from giving birth to our daughter, was at home. I called her to day, “They’re reporting that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. Can you check it out?” I thought it was merely a Cessna that had lost its way. She informed me otherwise and, at work, we all turned to the Internet to follow the story. We all stood in shock as we watched thousands of people murdered before our eyes.
It was our “where were you when?” moment. But since then, the impact has faded into the recesses of our memories. Yes, we remember that day each year around this time – and especially this year, the 10th year since the tragedy (anniversary seems like such an inappropriate word as it implies a celebration), but the events of Sept. 11, 2001 have
not had the intended impact on any aspect of our lives.
And that fact represents the terrorists’ greatest failure. The 9/11 bombings were supposed to be the defining strike in a battle against Western society by a fringe group of radical terrorists who bastardized the writings of the Qu’ran to justify their own sadistic desires.
Instead, it’s a day where we look back and lament the loss of so many innocent lives. It’s a moment where we look back at how people the world over came together to support each other. But it’s a moment that, in the grand scheme of things, hasn’t had a far-reaching impact across North America. The foundations of our cultures were not rattled; we do not live in fear; we remain as we were. And that’s our greatest success.
As a “where were you when?” moment, September 11th is a date that we look back upon as one of the moments in our lives; but it’s not the defining moment. It’s not the day that changed everything. It’s another day – one laced with the memories of murder and sorrow – but a day that has had little real impact on most of us.
On this so-called anniversary, that fact alone is something worthy of celebrating.