John+Towfighi

John Towfighi

On the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a few members of the editorial board share their thoughts on understanding and processing the event, as well as the importance of reflection.

The class of 2020 will be the last class of students to have members born before the September 11 terrorist attacks. As the 18th anniversary of 9/11 comes and goes, I think about how my generation has grown up alongside the aftermath of the event. The generations before us spend the anniversary remembering their experiences. The generations younger than us spend the anniversary learning about history. I myself was born before 9/11, yet can not remember back to when I was five months old. Instead, like others,  I remember through the experiences of people like my parents. It is interesting to see how my understanding of the attacks changes each year as I, like all those of the “post 9/11” generation, learn about a piece of history that the adults in our life experienced. 

I had a conversation with a friend about how we’ve known about the attacks for as long as we can remember, even longer than we’ve known that there were world wars. Yet, when did we really understand 9/11? Each year we are able to sympathize more and develop opinions as to how it affects us. Each year it becomes more apparent that this piece of history didn’t happen too long ago, and has implications for life today.

Over the summer, talk show host Jon Stewart advocated for the passing of a major bill that extends health care coverage for 9/11 first responders until 2090. It is an ongoing event, and one that still heavily affects people. Though history for a new generation, it is a continuous conversation for us all. I believe that it is important for each individual, of all ages, to take time to reflect and think about it on personal terms. The “post 9/11” population may not have direct experiences, but they have connections to experiences. Parents and teachers remember where they were when 9/11 occurred. People have their stories to share.

I was quite moved during a conversation I had discussing the tragedy in one class today. While people silently pay respects in their own way, I was glad to have a chance for this kind of conversation. 9/11 is an event that has an infinite number of understandings for different people. Each person receives it in their own way. It can be confusing, possibly hard to think about, but I think talking helps.

I’ve experienced the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in different ways each year. My experiences will change into the future as well. As I grow older, and so does the distance from the event, I hope to continue to hear discussion. I’d like to thank the teacher who introduced the idea of conversation today. Through sharing thoughts, we never cease to remember those who lost their lives and honor those who sacrificed to help. 

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