Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: Where I was and what has changed.

9/11/01 I was in a studio apartment on top of a concrete house in the middle of Hermosillo Mexico. I got a phone call from a friend freaking out because he thought we were at war. At first I couldn't figure out what he was talking about. Twin towers? Planes? Bombs? What!? It was a bad day because I was moving and the neighbor that was helping me move didn't want me to go out. He was worried about having an American gringo on his hands. There was always an undercurrent of tension as an American in Mexico. So we went over to his house where we watched the towers tumble. Only later in the month did I learn about the Pentagon and Flight 93. Disbelieving the implications I shrugged off suggestions that I should go home. In my mind I was wondering what it meant... War? More attacks? Friends? Family? Were they safe? Was I safe?

What has America learned since 9/11.

The First Lesson: Know thy enemy.

We knew about Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. We knew about threats against the U.S. The USS Cole had been attacked. The Twin Towers had been bombed in the previous decade. Our embassies overseas had been attacked. What we didn't know was how desperate and fanatical they had become. We couldn't fathom the lengths these young men were willing to take. The disbelief of US Navy Captains felt as Kamikaze pilots dove their planes into our ships during WWII was shared nationwide as we watched the planes of 9/11 smash into the towers. Was this really happening?

The Second Lesson: Never underestimate your enemy

This proved to be the most detrimental factor leading up to the attacks. We assumed we were safe. Those terrorists were overseas, we were safe. Boy, we were wrong.

The Third Lesson: Be prepared

This has been hammered home by the attacks of 9/11. Security which had been minimal jumped into overdrive. People who had never planned ahead, were suddenly gathering food stores and saving their money. The American public realized that globalization had finally reached our shores. We vowed to never be taken by surprise again.

Report card:

9/11 has forever changed the landscape of America. We have become stronger. Everyone must face trials in order to become stronger. The refining fire of 9/11 was our generations trial. The question is: will it be our only trial?

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