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article imageOp-Ed: September 11, 2001 — If I knew then what I know now

By Andrew Ardizzi     Sep 11, 2011 in World
We live in a series of moments, with the weightiness of each proceeding from it defining what's to follow, inexplicably shaping our lives with each breath we take.
We remember it all.
Throughout our lives we find ourselves as an audience to history, witnessing it in both its micro and macro realms of analysis regardless of the social, economic or political framing. It scarcely matters who we are, or where we come from, that element of humankind is a constant. We remember the cherished moments with our loved ones, that of time spent with our beloved pets, or a moment of your childhood that has been assimilated into what makes you who you are. That same dynamic is especially true when we study the macro dynamics of events.
If you speak to your parents, your grandparents, or perhaps if you're lucky enough, your great grandparents, they'll be able to educate you upon their experiences and observations of human history. Perhaps they can recollect their thoughts of when Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, effectively kick-starting the first World War. Perhaps your grandparents could enlighten you as to their thoughts once the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the waning days of World War Two. Perhaps your parents can tell you about the JFK assassination, or Vietnam, the Cold War, and eventually the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall. September 11, 2001 was such a day, and like my parental lineage, I remember that day.
I had just entered Grade 12 that year, the school year but a week old. I remember waking up that day, having breakfast, getting dressed and going to school. This being a high school, access to media was limited. Televisions in classrooms were typically reserved for teaching related needs, radios were uncommon and we remarkably lived in an age where mobile web browsing was but an idea on a chalkboard. Save the computers in the library, which even then we had to sign in to use, students were cut off.
I first found out about the World Trade Center attacks late in the morning as I was getting some books from my locker for my next class. I had overheard students further down the hall, who had come in late that day, talking about planes flying into the Twin Towers. As I recall, beyond the Hollywood styled unreality of the event, I was in disbelief. The immensity of the day's events didn't really barrel down on me until I arrived in my next class, where we spent the entire 72-minute period in a state of somber, quiet reflection. We weren't able to watch any of the news coverage, instead left to mull over what we thought this meant, what could result from it and what it specifically meant for Canada, the United States and, obviously, the international community. It was much of the same in my final class that day. Afterward, I walked home, went into my room and turned on the news.
The day's events had enveloped television broadcasts with a shroud of gloom, discussions of the events intermingled with on-the-ground reporting and personal testimonies from those who experienced it first hand. It truly is, to this point anyway, one of the darkest days of the twenty-first century. In the years that followed, NATO entered Afghanistan, the United States and its allies entered Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein in what many consider an illegal war, and in May, Osama bin Laden, the man behind the September 11 attacks ten years ago, was killed during a U.S. raid in Pakistan.
Despite our remembering the day as a collective, providing public discourse with a varying account of the day's events, I feel like we're left to ponder its legacy. What does this mean for us? The future? Are we any safer than we were ten years ago? Is anti-Muslim protest and rhetoric a new occurrence, or is it simply a highlighted dynamic of the ethnocentricity of humankind that previously resided in the shadows of our social consciousness? Vice-versa? Despite the deaths of 3,000 citizens, how is justice attained by the subsequent killing of an unknown number of Iraqis, despite some estimates placing the number of Iraqi deaths as high as over one million.
Ten years later, it seems we're still facing the same issues that brought us to that terrible morning. Yet, it's not as though it came at us from nowhere, as the source of the events themselves derive from the religious and political dispositions of numerous states across the globe, each with their own foreign policy to serve their needs and those of their allies. September 11, 2001 should serve as a reminder of what humankind is capable of, both in relation to its capacity for cruelty as well as its capacity for bravery. Yet, what it should have done was also serve as a wake-up call, forcing us to collectively pull our heads out of the sand and understand ourselves and those we've not yet met half-way around the world.
"Even if we win this tug of war and even the score, humanity struggles." - Sage Francis
September 11, the war on terror, Afghanistan, Iraq, the terrorist dynamic; The fallout of 9/11 has been one of the most heavily politicized domestic and foreign policy discourses over the last decade, one which has claimed the lives of many with a cost that dwarfs the entire U.S. war effort. Looking back on that day now, after having studied political science and journalism over the last six years, the day was a tragedy in respect to the senseless loss of life, but also as an opportunity to address one of the greater ills of civilization. Ten years later, I can't help but view it is an opportunity squandered, while we as an international community are no better off than we were the day of the attacks.
To this I posit the following question: Why?
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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