I don’t usually share things here I write for work, but in light of Osama bin Laden’s death Sunday night, a few other young editors and I put together a collaborative essay on what it’s meant to grow up, and really come of age, in the aftermath of September 11, and it’s received some great traction since we posted it this morning. I tend to abstain from sentimentalism, but I think bin Laden’s death represents a good opportunity for reflection on the past 10 years (I know, can you believe it’s been that long?).
Personally, I’ve always felt that 9/11 represented some kind of turning point in my life. It wasn’t that I became obsessed with all the hoopla; in 2007, I wrote a contentious column for my college newspaper dismissing the holiday-like treatment of the date’s anniversary. However, looking back now, I realize how so much of my high school and college years were defined by the events of 9/11, whether that be two wars, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, hating Bush, loving Obama and the new definition of terrorism.
Now, 10 years later, the architect of the event that started it all is dead. While I don’t feel that my generation is akin to those who came of age during times of civil unrest, such as during the Vietnam War, I do feel there’s something there. Something different. Something lacking. Perhaps you’ll agree.
From my essay:
I was 14 on Sept. 11, 2001, just a few weeks into my freshman year of high school. I was busy trying to untangle what it meant to be an official high school student, not to mention dealing with the perpetual awkwardness of being 14, soon to be 15. It was a Tuesday. I was on my way to second period French. Someone made a crack about a plane flying into the White House. I thought it was a joke.