All Grown Up- Students join the conversation about life post 9/11

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September 11, 2019 will mark 18 years since the tragedy of 9/11, meaning an entire generation of children has grown up within a post 9/11 society. Babies who were born before, or on this tragic date, are all now adults. The last of these babies populate the senior class. In commemoration of this tragedy, and in recognition of an entire generation raised in its aftermath, students and staff in different age brackets share the unique ways they relate to the event that shaped a decade. 

As the last kids alive during 9/11, seniors have a complicated way of relating to it.  

“We study history every day, but to acknowledge that we are the last generation alive to have experienced or lived during this critical point in American history is hard to think about,” senior Alina Wargacki said. 

Kids born after the attacks are curious about how life changed in their aftermath.  

“I wonder what traveling via airplanes was like before adding so many regulations due to 9/11,” sophomore Emanuella Yaroshik said. 

For high schoolers today, life before the catastrophe is defined by a general sense of world-peace, something unfamiliar to those born in the age of decade-long wars and terror attacks.  

“[9/11] makes us think more [about] flight safety, and how people could actually kill millions of people without a problem or a care in the world,” junior Shaniya Carlton said.  

Despite curiosities about life before the attacks, and a consensus that it must have felt more peaceful, students do not agree that living before the event would be preferable to only living after.  

“Even though in the past it seemed like simpler times, it was probably less safe,” Wargacki said. “There was no reason to question our safety back then because we didn’t have as advanced technology as we do now, but at least now we have protocols for everything and trained police forces. That way if something happens again, the attack can be handled instead of the populace and the police not knowing what to do afterwards.” 

From freshmen to seniors, students encompassing all grade levels seem to agree on one thing: xenophobia is not the answer to terrorism.   

“I feel like people nowadays are more paranoid and have a bias against other nations because of the attacks,” freshman Skylar Thompson said.   

Wargacki believes that society tends to stereotype all Muslims into suicide bombers and terrorists as a result of this tragedy.  

“I think this is an unfortunate byproduct of growing up post 9/11 where we have been subconsciously trained to racially profile others based off events we didn’t even experience,” Wargacki said.  

Math teacher, Ms. Meriam Freeman, can attest to the unfortunate change in attitudes of many Americans after the event.  

I think most [Americans] were distressed by what happened and became distrustful of those who were not like them,” Freeman said.  

Despite growing up under the shadow of such a tragedy, the students of Sequoyah intend to make this world better than the one they were born into, especially by taking action against xenophobia.  

“I think my generation has been making efforts towards accepting Middle Eastern culture by having a ‘you do you’ mentality and being involved in current issues,” Wargacki said. “I would hope that some of that prejudice disappears in future years.” 

The older generations also hope that their successors will make the world a kinder, more accepting place. 

This generation will have new challenges to deal with,” Freeman said. “My hope is that the younger generation learns to be more tolerant of their fellow man.” 

Babies have grown up, society has shifted, and activism has taken root since the catastrophe of 9/11, which looms in our nation’s history. With the lessons learned from this event in mind, Americans of older and rising generations are ready to move forward to a new chapter in American history. 

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