Sunday, September 11, 2011

9-11 Remembered

News report of the attack,
Slowly, I opened my eyes.

Blindly, I smashed my alarm clock into silence and collapsed back onto the bed to squeeze in a few more minutes’ sleep.

It was Tuesday, my least favorite day of the week.

But it wasn’t just any Tuesday.

It was September 11, 2001.

A few minutes later, my alarm’s buzz jerked me back into consciousness. This time I had to wake up or I would be late for school.

After dragging myself out of bed, I slunk downstairs like an Orc of Mordor to pour a bowl of cereal. My mom sat on a stool in the kitchen watching something on TV.

“There was a bombing in New York,” my mom said as she picked at her yogurt cup with a spoon.

“Really?” I said. “How bad is it?”

“I don’t know,” she replied.

The Twin Towers smoking.
The news showed two large towers smoking and on fire. Although I recognized them, I couldn’t remember what they were called. Five months earlier, I had visited New York City for the first time as part of an 8th grade field trip. While there, I had gone up to the top of the Empire State Building to take in the panoramic view of the city, but I couldn’t recall noticing the Twin Towers.

Just then, the World Trade Center buildings collapsed in a cataclysmic, yet oddly ordered manner. It looked like something out of a disaster movie.

To my 14-year old self, it was terrifying.

But I was more confused than scared.

Why would anyone do this? I wondered.

Bush and Uribe, former Colombian president.
Ten years later, I woke up in Bogotá and thought about all that has come to pass in the last decade, both for the United States and in my own life. I also thought about how the 9/11 terrorist attacks have affected my surrogate country, Colombia.

The Colombian government was quick to jump on the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” language following 9-11, relabeling the left-wing guerilla groups “narcoterrorists” to garner support for more American money. Although Colombia’s armed groups hardly pose any direct threat to the American people, the U.S. government increased military funding to Colombia tenfold.

Using the “War on Terror” as a pretext and armed with superior American weaponry, the Colombian military cracked down on Colombia’s many armed groups, performing untold numbers of human rights atrocities in the process.

It is a real shame how many politicians the world over have and continue to use the tragedy of 9-11 as an excuse to advance a right-wing agenda.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today.

A heroic response.
Today, I want to focus on remembering those who needlessly perished ten years ago, to honor their lives as well as those who responded heroically when duty called. Especially during a time when my country appears to be on the verge of a civil war resembling Colombia’s, we must not forget who we are.

We are citizens of an increasingly globalizing world; our decisions and actions matter.

And they carry consequences.

That is one thing we ought never forget.

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