What 9/11 means for my generation: A call for a less angry decade

The distance between 19 and 29 is always a revelatory one, but for me it has been a decade defined by the slow and steady realization of exactly what happened to us that day. Today, I feel most touched by 9/11 when I see politicians saying their goal is to defeat each other instead of promising to make changes for good. I see it in angry Facebook posts and scathing blogs. I see it in recall campaigns and fear-mongering around dinner tables. I see the anger everywhere, and it’s exhausting. I’m deeply disheartened by the negativity all around me. I’m more than disheartened; I’m disappointed.

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How “Where I Was When” has changed

We had a rare moment this week that will be filed in every American’s brain under “Where I Was When.” We don’t get a lot of these. Sure, I remember where I was when hearing certain election results or about particularly horrendous natural disasters, but that was because I cared about them. Not everyone did care about those particular events, or if they did, they might not have felt the same way about them.

But when the world found out that Osama bin Laden had been killed, every American cared, and we all have (more or less) the same opinion: that dude was bad and we’re glad he’s not still at large. This was evident in our collective and immediate harkening back to the last “where I was when” moment, September 11 itself. Naturally this was in part because the two events are inextricably tied, but also because the moments themselves are that last two of their kind in breadth and gravity.

So naturally, I was thinking about “where I was when” I heard about the World Trade Center: on a soccer field on MSU’s campus. And then I thought about where I was on Sunday when I heard about bin Laden: Twitter. And then I realized what a stunning decade we’ve had.

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