Today is the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks. We wanted to reprint our thoughts about the aftermath of the tragedy and what has happened to our country in the years since that terrible day. This article originally appeared on September 11th, 2015.
At the dawn of the 21st century I was a twenty five year old man who just started to get his life in order. Many of my peers had started their careers, a few had even started families. I was already attempting my second career and had finally moved out of my parents home. I had a college education and skills needed in a booming economy, but various personal missteps had slowed my entry into independent adulthood. In my circle of friends I was an anomaly, someone who just could not figure out how to grow up. Twenty five may have been a little late to grow up, yet I was comfortable that my life was back on a forward trajectory.
September 11th, 2001 was a very sunny and mild Tuesday in St. Louis Missouri. I was on my way to watch the best golfers in the world practice for an upcoming event in the area. I was to meet a fellow friend at a nearby hotel where we would get breakfast and carpool to the golf course. On my way the local radio broke the news that something seemed to hit one building of the World Trade Center. The initial reports said it was a small plane or a news helicopter. Less than an hour later I was standing in a packed lobby of a hotel watching the true horror unfold. This is going to sound like a cliche, I did not know at the time how much the world was about to change.
Fourteen years later I start my day like any other. It is a bright mild Friday morning in Cincinnati Ohio. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. My life has continued a forward trajectory, everything seems the same as it ever was. I start every morning looking through the news and social media to see what trends SeedSing wants to tackle next week. On the morning of September 11th, 2015 my feed is filled with "Never Forget" memes from the old and new media. Like Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Never Forget has become this programmed response everyone feels they should give on this one day of the year. There is very little thought given to what this means. Why should we Never Forget? Who should we Never Forget? What will not forgetting give us?
We have forgotten and society has been radically altered because of our memories. The national reaction, fed by the politicians and media, was one of extreme vengeance. The grounds was still smoking when President Bush boasted of leveling other nations. The public applauded his strength, the press gave the administration a pass on any faulty intelligence, and the congress gleefully accepted war. All of the grand estates of the American society were controlled by greedy baby boomers who were already gearing up for a war in Iraq. The September 11th attacks caused the public to line up behind the warmongers. Instead of attacking Iraq, we were invested in going into another nation. There was no way to question our ill advised blood lust. To question was to not honor the dead. The baby boomers in charge consolidated their power, increased their wealth, and sacrificed the millennials.
The millennial generation were mostly in high school or college when the September 11th attacks took place. The baby boomers and generation xers were in the work force, shaping the future for the millennials. In the aftermath of the attacks, the millennials were called upon to defend their country. The millennials were recruited into a holy war that had not been won by over a hundred generations before them. The ones who belonged to the lower economic classes sacrificed their lives and sanity for our irrational wars. All the millennials had their economic futures sacrificed by the greed of those in power. Concepts like freedom and patriotism were being co-opted by right wing corporate and religious institutions after September 11th. Our society started to deify rich white CEOs as some kind of economic savior, they were the job creators. We allowed the polluters to have more free reign, so we do not allow the terrorists to dictate our lives. The thieves on Wall Street were absolved because they were the champions of american capitalism. The boomers got rich, the gen xers tried to tread water, and the millennials were lost.
In 2000, at the age of twenty five, I was behind my peers. Searching for a career, living at home, and being generally without direction. This was not society, this was my own doing. Since September 11th, our society has fundamentally changed. What we forget is how the boomers changed this society. It has become the norm for a college educated twenty five year old to be living at home. In fourteen short years we have allowed the politicians, corporations, and media to create an economic wasteland for future generations. The boomers are still mostly in charge, and they have gotten wealthier. The gen xers are still mostly treading water, waiting for their opportunity. The millennials are learning how to survive a new social and economic reality, and they have no guidance. We have failed the millennials, and we need their help to fix our problems.
September 11th and the aftermath has seen way too much death and suffering. On that mild and sunny Tuesday morning all but twenty of the victims were living their lives and looking forward to their next happy moment. The many powerful people who exploited this event for their greed and racism should not be left off the hook. The architects of today's society, one that is leaving the majority behind, have allowed the fear of that day to flourish. They have lost a generation. Never Forget.
RD is the creator and Head editor of SeedSing. Have another opinion? Let us know.