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Generation 9/11: Life after September 11th as a post-millennial New Yorker

September 11, 2001 is a date that remains a significant part of every American’s life.

Whether it be a 15-year-old high school student or an 80-year-old retiree, 9/11 is an event that has and will continue to impact everyday life for an average citizen.

The tragedy in downtown Manhattan, New York remains a benchmark for our nation’s lowest most vulnerable point in time. All at once, our country froze to witness what’s said to be the ‘Capital of the World’ be left defenseless, never before did a tragedy manage to cripple us as much since the assassination of John F. Kennedy on live TV.

That being said, here I am, a 19-year-old with no memory whatsoever of 9/11 or what life was like before it. I was a 3-year-old living in Brooklyn when the towers were hit.

I’m not sure if 3-year-olds have the ability to form memories, or maybe my personal memory is just trash, but I couldn’t tell you the feeling in the air during or immediately after the attack.

Life before 9/11 is a mystery to me and life after is a normality, as post-millennials (those who weren’t directly affected by the attacks) we can understand the impact of the tragedy but I’m certain we’ll never be able to truly FEEL it as others felt it.

What I look at as a history lesson, is a real life event that many other Americans had to suffer through. There’s a clear detachment those my age have towards the fatal attack due to the large age gap and more importantly the extremity of the incident.

The story seems too unreal, planes crashing into the tallest buildings in my city on a calm morning sounds impossible today. As much surveillance as we have, as much military we have on the streets everyday, something like this should never happen.

That’s until I remember hindsight is 20/20 and these protective procedures I mentioned haven’t always been in place. Post 9/11 isn’t just a timestamp, it’s a lifestyle that many of us don’t recognize as being a huge factor in our quality of life.

My world has always been overprotective. Police in full riot gear holding automatic rifles patrolling the streets is regular, cameras on every street sign is policy and anything otherwise is crazy.

Privacy has always come second to safety because you just never know. Hearing that 4-inch knives and liquids were once allowed when boarding a plane, as well as not having to remove your shoes for scanning, sounds ridiculous to me.

The rules my generation continues to grow up with are vastly different than how anyone who experienced 9/11 grew up. Subway warnings of “suspicious packages” are the soundtrack to a morning train ride and we never think twice about it.

In elementary school, being taught about the event we all were too young to comprehend I remember the fear my teacher expressed over the situation.

Having a moment of silence over the tragedy was a yearly occurrence and we’d always light candles in memory of all the lives lost that fatal day. As a direct response to 9/11, terror drills were a weekly practice as we’d all gather in the hallways in the fetal position as the bell rung over and over.

My generation is often labeled the “who cares” generation based off our lack of reaction to most things and I directly attribute that to the 9/11 attacks.

We were given a world living in fear and precautionary measures, we’ve been raised prepared for disaster and thanks to the internet can experience a different tragedy everyday.

When hurricanes hit or we’re threatened by another terrorist organization we make memes and Twitter jokes.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 will remain a turning point for our quality of life and will continue to be a stamp in American tragedy. A constant reference of something we hope to never experience again.

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