I was in middle school when it happened (which gives me a slight comfort in my feelings about my current age), and the memory of that day is still very much fresh in my mind. Being situated in the west coast meant that when the 9/11 attacks happened on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York, us teenagers with school obligations had merely started our dreary day.
Honestly I thought it was a joke when upon arriving on school grounds there was whispers of an airplane being flown into the World Trade Center in New York (had a the faintest idea of what it even was). Once news sunk in that indeed it was not a joke and a plane did struck one of the towers, we all amongst ourselves chalked it up to an accident, because acts of terrorism was such a foreign concept in our modern society (to us teenagers anyway - we were all peanuts when the Oklahoma City bombings happened).
Things quickly turned serious when we got locked in our homerooms and was refused to be let to our first period classes. We were told that what was happening in New York was no accident, and was very much premeditated. Students was to stay in homerun until the adults figured out what to do with us next. Hysteria sinked in with those without the stomach to bear the horror that was supposedly unfolding (haven't got televisions in our classrooms). Tears started flying, mongering about the end of the world, World War III, and general disbelieve that how a mundane monday in September can turn so upside down. Remember, we were still kids.
Slowly but surely the administration allowed kids to be sent home with our parents, for the school district mandated that school session was cancelled for the rest of the day. Unfortunately for me that means taking the bus home (neighborhood school, like a boss) because I had a little brother who was only four and priority with the parental was infinitely higher than mine. Nonetheless, upon arriving at the comforts of home (a sentiment not shared by any New Yorker at that time) I was glued to the TV for the rest of the day, shellshocked, half believing and half not believing (saw both towers come crashing down).
Nothing gel the American people together like our nation under attack (thanks FDR). The outpouring of support and pride for this country of ours in the months that followed was something never seen since the second World War. Heck even me, then still a citizen of the great communist nation of The People's Republic of China, was cognizant enough of the atmosphere at the time and proudly displayed a poorly made plastic replica of the American flag.
Of course to best emulate the events of World War II, what do we do when our sovereignty is attacked by a foreign regime (only this time in the Middle East)? We go invade another country! Because the best reaction to thousands of lives lost is eye for an eye. Oh and we have some unfinished business at another country from a decade ago? Perfect alibi to invade that country to finish the job (well sort of, country still in shambles for all accounts)!
Let's face it, the legacy of the 9/11 attacks for the past 10 years have been the (still ongoing) meddling in the affairs of two countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the original goal was to find, eradicate, and bring to justice those that were responsible fo the attacks on our soil. The numbers don't lie however, the colateral damage on both sides have been far too great for what little ounce of closure the death of Osama Bin Laden has given us. America spent trillions on the war machine while the situation in the homefront saw a decline in educational prowess, crumbling infrastructure, a financial meltdown of historic proportions, and a legislature so inept that the only thing they can agree on is that our troops are worth supporting (even though democrats and republicans sit on either side of the fence regarding the war.)
It is sad to see the only outcome from the togetherness of the American people brought on by the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks is the general hubris of the United States foreign policy. We are more interested in bandying around our might on the world stage rather than fixing and improving our status at home. For sure the world looks upon America as the bastion of the free democratic world, and the question of whether to get involved into other foreign affairs is a damn if you do, damn if you don't situation.
At what point do we toss aside our ego and (false) sense of superiority and look without a blind eye at the problems our country currently face? At this 10 year anniversary of 9/11 attacks, America is at a crossroads - the decisions we and our legislature make in the next year and half will determine plenty of this nation's future.
Today and every September 11th since 2001, we do well to remember those who perished, sacrificed, and those that fought and continue to fight for our freedom overseas. Necessary as it is, but it leaves out many others: the countless American muslims (and persons that look Middle Eastern) that are still on the receiving end of the much hate and discrimination, and the innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan that are unfairly and collaterally affected by America's "war on Terror".