The 9/11 Generation

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Consciousness Found, Innocence Lost

by STEPHEN ZUBRYCKYManaging Editor

I am sitting on the rug in the family room, playing with my toys. The television is on. My mother sits in the chair above me, weeping. 

It’s Sept. 11, 2001. I’m four years old. I’ve now entered consciousness. 

My father works in a building like those, I think. I ask my mom if that’s where he works. It’s not, she assures me.

Nonetheless, she weeps.

I ask her why she is so upset. After all, Dad is not directly in harm’s way. She does not answer.

My dad eventually made it home from the city. I remember sitting on the couch with him and looking at the television. A streetlight bent standing bent and broken against the gray hellscape. An escalator reaching upward into the smoke.

It was not long before the language of Sept. 11 soon entered into my vernacular. Terror. Hijack. Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden.

It was in this language that I began to dream – trusted friends and family members unmasking themselves and revealing themselves to be bin Laden.

It was in this language that I also played. Games like “plane crash” became common on the school yard. I’d build ornate little towns with tall centerpieces that towered over the streets below. Then, I’d roll in my Hot Wheel fire engines and knock them down.

It was what I knew.

Growing up as part of the 9/11 generation means that there’s always a piece of my mind stuck on that day. Every time I visit Lower Manhattan. Every time I see a bag laying by itself on the subway. Every time I board a plane.

There’s more that I remember from that September.

I recall the very next day, when we recited the Pledge of Allegiance in pre-K. And hanging a flag on our front porch.

My Sept. 11 experience was not extraordinary or remarkable. It was not a profile in bravery or heroism. It was my beginning.

A Heavy Price To Pay


My first memory was of the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

While my parents, along with the rest of the country, were glued to the television, the anchors would tell the viewers what the firefighters at Ground Zero needed.  One of these things was water, and so my father and I took the short ride to Stop and Shop to pick some up.  When I asked my father why we had bought so much water, he very simply said, as he was handing the bottles to the state troopers in the parking lot, “It’s for the firemen.”

My three-year-old logic thought this made perfect sense.  Firemen needed water to put out fires.  Little did I know what actually happened.

I do not remember the actual day of 9/11.  My parents purposefully made sure of that.  Years later, I was told that they were glued to the television set, but every time I entered the room, they would change the channel.

Now, I wish changing the channel were that simple.  Now, we’ve become a nation governed by fear, and I am forced to sit and watch.

People say “everything changed after 9/11.” But a lot of that “change” was orchestrated by our country’s irrational fear of Islam and is continued today by our complacency.

Yes, we might think our lives have changed because of that awful day, and they have.  But those changes pale in comparison to the ones targeting our Muslim-American brothers and sisters, who have paid and continue to pay for the transgressions of those who should not be associated with them in the first place.

Never forget 9/11.  And never forget the ones who continue to pay the price for it.

9/11 Means: A Muslim-American’s Perspective

by RABEA ALI, Guest Writer

Sept. 11, 2001 changed the lives of everyone forever, some more than others.

For me, a visibly Muslim-American, even as a three-year-old, it meant I was to be unjustly lumped into the category of “terrorist”, all simply because the act was supposedly committed in the name of my religion.

For me, 9/11 means a wave of Islamophobia hit America and would steadily rise until a president who openly admitted he despised Muslims would be elected.  For me, 9/11 meant everyone thought all Muslims were responsible and sought revenge for the fallen.

For me, 9/11 meant living with an element of fear at all costs, for one person one person may just decide to enact their supposed revenge.  For me, 9/11 means spending the night in the hospital and weeks with injuries because I dared to be Muslim.

Now, don’t get me wrong, 9/11 was a tragic event, and the lives lost should be mourned and honored.  But what many tend to forget are the Muslim lives lost in the towers, the thousands of lives lost in the wars waged on terrorism that rage to this day, or the thousands of hate crimes that occur in the name of retaliation.  

As the years go on, the aftermath of 9/11 and the unjust targeting of Muslims serves as a reminder to be unapologetically Muslim, albeit while looking over my shoulder, and the need to create a change in the world in order for it to be more accepting.

So, when I see those flags on the quad this year, it’ll be a reminder to be on guard, but also a reminder to be true to who I am, and that some good should come out of these years of fear.

Rabea Ali is a junior management and marketing double major.  She is also the current president of the college’s Muslim Student Association.