In Fall 2001 I took the path train every day to get from NJ to college in NYC. There were two Path trains- the one I took to midtown, and the one to the World Trade Center. For months after 9/11 the Path train station had hundreds of missing persons signs, which no one would take down. I would read their descriptions while waiting for the train every morning. I can't help but think back to that time today.
It was the start of a dark decade. Being in NYC at the time was scary. People were scared. People were jackasses, and kept throwing bags of flour down the escalators at the subway stations. Other people panicked and said the flour was anthrax, and subway stations were shut down. I showed up late to my social statistics class at least 5 times that semester, since I had to walk across town to get another subway, or try to get a cab if I was really going to be late (but that cost upwards of $20, which I couldn't really afford).
I'm not normally happy to see anyone die. I hear young people were rioting on some college campuses when the news came out last night. These students were 8, 9, 10, 11 years old when 9/11 happened. They've lived half their lives under this shadow. I was 19 and it is a clear turning point to me. Before 9/11 I didn't read the news, things happened,but the 90s were a golden decade for the most part, the economy was booming, we weren't at constant war, and I was too young to remember the 80s. But since 9/11 things have not been good. People are too cynical. Conspiracy theories abound. No one trusts anyone, least of all the government.
I hope this marks another turning point in the mood of our country. When I was a kid I was proud of our country. Ronald Reagan told the Russian dude to tear down that wall, and he did. We went to war (the gulf war) and everyone hung up yellow ribbons on their trees to support the soldiers. My 3rd grade teacher took us on a walk around the neighborhood to see the ribbons. The war was over in a few months. Later that year the Soviet Union collapsed, and we all looked on in amazement as the map of the world changed.
Now people have a magnet, a picture of what support used to look like. The facade but not the ribbon itself. How symbolic. There's so much cynicism about the government, they are corrupt, they are constantly having sex scandals, they can't get anything good done, we're in two endless expensive wars, and up until now we had gone almost a decade not even able to find Osama Bin Laden. People don't have trust in the government anymore, and part of that has manifested in not wanting to give the government more money. Republicans are using this as an opportunity to cut government services to the poor and trying to cut services like family planning for women. This is incredibly shortsighted, but this generation has apparently not learned from the mistakes of the past (maybe because the quality of public education has become so dismal as the education system has also been starved of money and resources).
Anyways, I'm tired of living in this depressing country of cynics. I'm hoping this revives some of the sense of unity and sense of shared responsibility to each other that used to make this country so great. I feel better already.