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Born into Gen-Z, 9/11 has had a different impact

On Sept. 11, I was 2 years old.

Part of a generation unaware of the world before the 9/11 attacks occurred, it is difficult to say how life is different for me now. The extent of my experience comes from second-hand accounts— teachers who shared documentaries and taught what happened on the anniversary every year or stories told by my parents who watched coverage on television.

I do not remember life before the attacks, but the aftermath we cope with to this day is something normal in the lives of those in my generation. Taking my shoes off at the security check and having to exit the airport before seeing my family members has never seemed strange to me. I have never batted an eye at signs warning against prohibited items, weapons or restrictions on fluids scattered throughout the terminal.

Being fearful of the dangers that could come with traveling are ingrained into us for a different reason. We did not experience the tragedy firsthand, but part of our lives comes with following extreme precautions in case it were to happen again. The idea of a bomb or hijacking occurring on an airplane has never seemed out of the realm of possibility for me because of these precautions. It makes it almost feel likely something dangerous could be lurking anytime I board a plane, regardless of the fact that I have never experienced anything like it.

Despite the aftermath of 9/11 impacting my life today, I also recognize I will never truly understand what it was like to see it happen. I and others of my generation live mostly in ignorance of what life was like before experiencing such a harrowing event and the toll it took on so many individuals and families. 

While I cannot contribute a story or a memory of my own from that day, I am grateful to hear the stories of those who share them. I may never be able to fully comprehend what happened that day or feel the full effects of what truly occurred, but I am grateful for those throughout my life who have worked to keep the events alive and have shown us the importance of honoring the lives lost.