Many remember what they were doing when it happened. I actually dont. I do remember what one of my high school classmates was doing, though. This showboat began bawling dramatically in the most public way possible at 9:45 a.m. and continued to do so until school got out at 3:15 p.m. Now, before you sympathize with her and admonish me for being harsh on such a true patriot, you should know she wasnt crying over the lives taken or out of national solidarity. She was crying because, the way she saw it, this event would lead to war which would somehow claim the service of her 11-year-old brother and add just enough emotional stress to the household to cause her parents divorce, because of which she would probably have to move.
Obviously, most were more mature than Ms. Koestner in their reactions. Our political leaders, for instance, took a step back and only after much deliberation and information-processing did they conclude that this event should lead to a war which would claim the service of thousands of men and women. This added just enough emotional stress to the nation to result in its citizens overlooking the fact that we were fighting in an irrelevant country for irrelevant reasons in the first place.
Hmm. Maybe that isnt the best example. But, at least religious leaders were different. Various Christian denominations diplomatically evaluated the situation before pointing out how 9/11 was a symbolic illustration of why Islam is evil, or how God used this day as a punitive measure against our lenient policies towards abortion and gay rights.
Okay, fine. They dont count either. At least the average, mature adult has shown a rational reaction. Its not like anyone complains violently about the necessary heightened security at airports, and to the best of my knowledge, no one opportunistically hiked up prices after the tragedy. And almost everyone has proven they are bigger people than to extrapolate from one tragedy a justification to harass people of Middle Eastern background (or, in the absence of Middle Easterners, anyone who looks like a Middle Easterner when you take off your glasses). Yes, truly, this tragic event brought out the best in many: administrators, religious leaders and citizens alike.
I can only hope that five more years down the road, some things will have changed about our attitudes towards 9/11. It will always be appropriate for communities to give solemn recognition to those that died, and offer memorials and support services to families of victims. But I hope that in 2011, struggling pop stars will have stopped mixing powerful 9/11 news clips with their otherwise useless songs, and that zealots will stop portraying Muslims as people who hate freedom. What does that even mean? If you had a person of Islamic faith in a cage and unlocked it, would he or she be disgusted and slam it shut again? If you served him or her freedom fries while they were in said cage, would he or she throw the plate away on principle?
Maybe, just maybe, in 2011 the nation will have stopped isolating one tragedy that took place on our soil and blowing it out of proportion. Perhaps, given five more years, we will remember a little thing historians call the Holocaust, and stop acting like this one tragedy is more important to commemorate than any other. A crazy expectation? I dont think so. We probably wont even bother talking about 9/11 five years down the road because well be too busy talking about Katrina. One thing is certain: only time will tell.
Staff writer Lindsey Myers is a junior from Appleton, Wis. She majors in history, in English, and in political science.