My father died on February 23, 2001. He didn’t live to see the horrific events of September 11, 2001. His life was lived entirely in a pre-9/11 world.
When my father was alive, we would go to Washington, DC and drive on the street right in front of the White House. We lived in New Jersey and would, on a whim, decide to go to the Statue of Liberty and go up to the pedestal. No pre-purchased tickets and security line required. My father loved to go to the airport, walk to the gate and watch the planes take off and land. When I was a girl, I stood with him at the gate and he pointed out the different types of aircraft. My father died too young at 61 years old and it occurs to me now that he really was of a different era. Everything changed on September 11, 2001 and he lived in a world before it.
I teach the next generation – the post September 11, 2001 babies – who were not born before our lives changed. They do not know the horror of that day first hand. They have always known security searches at every federal building. They don’t think twice about lockdown drills and bag searches and long airport security lines. They assume that you cannot just drive near the White House. Their world and that which my father lived in are so very different.
I wonder if it is a blessing to have been the generation before and the generation after but to never having witnessed that day. Is it a blessing to have never known the fear we with now or to have never known any other way? Both generations, before and after, didn’t cry for the mourners and go through pain of unwanted change after having to admit that we weren’t impenetrable. They just don’t know that day like those of us between the before and after. In some ways, they are blessed.
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