20 years later I have a much different perspective than I did on that morning as a fresh 23 year old. As the events in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC happened I was watching on TV. I switched the radio on to listen as we drove to work, and I hardly did any work that day. I just kept listening to the radio and refreshing new websites and the forums I was on at the time. In my memory, it was the first real tragic even where the internet played a big roll in information dissemination and where I was getting facts.
Mostly, when I think about 9/11, I think about where I was living at the time. Kern County is a VERY red county in a VERY blue state and there were so many people with little American flags on their cars, and flags raised on houses I had never seen before, and flag clothes worn in not-July, and moments of silence… but I also remember vividly the hate and rhetoric being shouted around me by my in-laws and husband. About other Americans.
Vile things about Muslims. Vile thing about other religions on the coattails of that hate.
I don’t ever remember saying these same things. Maybe I just suppressed that memory. I REALLY hope I didn’t, I have grown immensely since then. But I also did not try and correct these dumb opinions. I lived in a town that hasn’t really changed all that much today, with lots of people who are still saying the exact same things.
Now 20 years later I see those same people posting remembrances about that day. About how tragic it it was. How we mourned collectively as a country, stopping everything to watch specials on TV, to attend ceremonies, to pay tribute to the 2996 American’s that died and the anger that it happened. That that many people could be lost in a day. That many families torn apart in 24 short hours.
But a lot of the people I see posting this won’t get vaccinated against a disease that has killed, averaged since the US went on lockdown, 3763 people. PER DAY. Americans.
So when people talk about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned, I just want to ask them what the fuck they are talking about. Because if we’re being honest, we are far worse off now. The same people that were shouting American First seem to be the ones doing the most to keep American last.
So I feel ashamed to still be where we are today. I desperately hope that one day I won’t feel this way on 9/11. That one day American will be the beacon of hope and inclusion so many of us dream it could be. But today, 20 years later, is not that day.