Public consciousness of 9/11 attack fading; is it a problem?

15 years later, it seems like Americans have started to forget


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The American flag flies over Alumni Hall.

Aidan Denehy, Opinion Editor

This Sunday, September 11, 2016, marks the 15th anniversary of one of the most tragic and policy-changing single events to have ever effected the United States; the terrorist attacks of Sept.  2001.

Some of us, especially upperclassmen, can remember that day, but not in great detail, as many of us were only 5 or 6 years old when the attacks took place. However, if you ask almost any faculty member, any monk, or even your parents, they can likely recall where they were and what they were doing when they learned that terrorists had hijacked airliners and used them to attack civilian targets in New York, as well as the Pentagon in Washington, D.C

This event had enormous repercussions not just for the Americans, but for America’s allies as well. The War on Terror, which was largely in response to 9/11, would involve almost every NATO nation as well as several dozen other countries, and would lead, for better or worse, to changes in government in several Middle Eastern countries, with the Taliban government in Afghanistan being removed in 2001 and Saddam Hussein finally being ousted from power in 2003 (although this is to simplify the issue- there were also other reasons several countries were invaded over the past 15 years.)

9/11 was, in effect, the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century.

Every American alive knew what had happened that fateful day, most Americans were outraged, and many Americans demanded retribution for an attack on American soil. Quickly, memorials were built, the nation collectively mourned their loved ones, and America promised: “Never Forget.”

However, 15 years later, it seems as though Americans have started to forget.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the outrage and anger, the desire for revenge that many Americans felt after 9/11, is largely sated. None of the recognizable enemies from that time exist anymore; Osama Bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda is rapidly fading into obscurity (although it is being mimicked by several groups who claim to be its successor,) the Taliban are gone, and Saddam Hussein has been dead for over 10 years.

To use the cliché, it’s history; quite literally. Many high school students must now learn about  9/11 as a historical event, as many high school students were not even born when the attacks took place. It is frightening to me, as someone who remembers living in the suburbs of DC during the attacks, to know that a freshman who enrolls in just a few more years will likely have been born after 9/11 occurred. They were spared the terror, anger, and heartbreak of that tragic day. However, because of this, the memory of Sept. 11 has started to fade from our collective mindset.

It’s not just that we’re getting older, it’s also the question of whether or not 9/11 is even relevant anymore. Just yesterday, President Obama officially declared Sept. 11 Patriots Day and the National Day of Service, in honor of those who lost their lives as a result of Sept. 11. However, even such a major event as a new national holiday made only minor waves in the news world; instead, much attention was focused on the start of football season (which also happened to coincide with 9/11.)

Even on campus, I have seen a decline in remembrance for 9/11; and I’ve only been here for 3 years. What started as an organized day of service, as well as vigils and a prayer service during my freshman year, has trickled down into a memorial prayer we have received via email. Again, this is not a criticism of the school, or how it chooses to observe the day; these are just facts.

The times are changing. It seems that as time goes by, our attitudes change as well. While I would advise Americans to make peace with Sept. 11 (and to fight the Islamophobia that has once again flared up in the Western World) I would also like to remind us all of one thing; We Must Never Forget.