Tag Archives: 9/11

10 Years Later, We are Better

Just a 15 year old high school sophmore waking up extra early for a big exam.  The daily ritual was to turn on the tv and start getting ready for school.  That morning was different.  There wasn’t talk of traffic or the weather.  There wasn’t talk of the direction of the Dow Jones.  Instead there were images of a plane hitting a building.  There were images of a hole in the side of the Pentagon.

It didn’t take long for me to realize what was going on.  It was then that I frantically started calling my family.  My cousin was at the time working as a flight attendant for United Airlines.  I knew she had many flights around the New York area so that was the first person I thought of calling.  No response.  I called ten more times.  No answer.  I then called my grandmother, my uncle, and all of my aunts.  Finally one of them answered and said my cousin was alright.  She was in San Francisco and wasn’t working that day.  I would find out later she did lose a friend.

The drive to school was quiet.  The radio blared in the background as commentators tried to sort out the details.  I don’t even remember fighting traffic.  Everyone at school asked each other if they had seen the news, if they had seen the videos and pictures.  I knew then my generation would be different.

We sat through the first few periods just watching the news.  There were no lesson plans, there were no lectures.  The exam, that was cancelled.  Everyone sat there watching the screen, some crying, some silent, all of us touched.

They made an announcement that if anyone needed to see a grief councelor, one would be available.  Being so far removed from the events, I don’t think any of us thought a councelor would matter.  Everyone knew the significance of the event, but at the same time, there was a sense of numbness, 8,000 miles will do that to a person.

Looking back, there are many things I have taken away from the months following that tragic day:  America is a proud nation with a strong and hard-working people.  We persevere through the hard times and always come out stronger and more willing to help others.  In times of extreme circumstances, people will always help others, even if it may not be the best thing for themselves.

Ultimately, there is one major thing that I have learned.  This generation, my generation, has been thrown obstacle after obstacle.  We witnessed the attack on America, we witnessed the economy crash, we witnessed two wars and thousands of lives lost overseas.  The amazing thing?  We are still the most upbeat, optimistic, and forward thinking generation.  We elected the first African-American President.  We created Facebook, Twitter, and just about every social networking site.  We are becoming the doctors, lawyers, and politicians who care more about helping others than ourselves.

WE are the new Greatest Generation.  This country is in good hands.  My generation is stepping up to the plate and taking ownership.  We have seen the depths that this country can hit and we have seen how great this country can be.  There is no doubt in my mind that we are the generation which will change America for the better.  We will not fail, we can not fail.

I challenge every single person of my generation and invoke the message of John F. Kennedy:

ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

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Special Comment: Dissecting How I Feel Over bin Laden’s Death

I’ve searched around for the answer as to how I should feel about the news of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of a US Navy SEALS strike team.  Before I get into how I feel on the topic, I think it is only fair that I explain where I come from on this.

I had the unforgettable honor of participating in the 2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along with the Pearl City High School Marching Band from Pearl City, Hawaii.  It was only two months removed from the tragic events of 9/11 and by sheer coincidence, our trip was scheduled to visit Washington D.C. before making the final stop to New York City.  I grew up next to a military installation and spent much time around active duty personnel as well as their families, this gave me a better understanding of how special it is to be an American.  I viewed the trip as a way to show our respect to those who fight for our freedom as well as those who lost their lives on the tragic day.  It was also a chance to bring the Aloha Spirit to those in the affected areas and perhaps to the rest of the country via the televised event.  We were allowed to see the scene at the Pentagon and were allowed within a few blocks from ground zero in NYC.  The scene is not something you can unsee or unsmell.  The ruins and the hard-working volunteers were a sight to behold.

It is with this experience that I learned of the death of Osama bin Laden while browsing the internet.  A window was open to my Facebook and I noticed that someone had posted a comment saying the Al-Qaeda leader was dead.  I was a bit confused by the news and immediately began checking a multitude of news sites.  Every site had a basic heading of the Osama’s death but offered no details.  It wasn’t until President Obama stepped to the podium in his address to the nation did we begin to hear what had happened.

A bird's-eye view of bin Laden's compound. (PHOTO: ABCNEWS)

The initial reaction was a combination of shock and satisfaction.  The man who had been on the run from the entire United States Military as well as many international forces had finally been found.  Not only had he been found, but he had been shot and killed by American forces.  This was a man who captured the attention of the entire world with his fanaticism, and whose main focus was to bleed the United States economy dry, had finally met his end.  Anyone who heard the news had to have been shocked.  The joke was that he had been the Hide and Go Seek World Champion for the last decade.  Now he was dead after being shot twice by a US SEAL team.

As an American, there had to be a sense of satisfaction that this man was no longer a priority.  As an American, there had to be a sense of satisfaction over finally catching the man who left a wake of devastation on a September morning in 2001.  I do not deny, nor do I attempt to hide the fact that I was for a moment satisfied at the news.  The satisfaction then turned into relief.  Osama had been on the radar of American intelligence since the early 90’s and was always a step ahead of his pursuers.  Now the long chase was over and our sights could be set on a different purpose.

There was a sense of relief for the armed forces and intelligence personnel who have searched around the world for Osama.  Aside from that though, there was a bit of apathy.  There is the understanding that although Osama was the top figure in Al-Qaeda, he is just another cog in the overall scheme of things.  The organization will continue on with their mission and will likely use the death of Osama as the rallying cry.  The fight against terrorism will continue and will likely remain unchanged.

At the end of the day, as an American, there is a sense of bravado.  There is a feeling of wanting to puff out one’s chest and to walk taller.  The actions of some heroic Americans have injected a bit of patriotism.  I am glad that it was AMERICAN forces who took down bin Laden and it was a decision made by our President.  It was not an incidental casualty of the war zone.  It was a calculated move made by our leadership.

For that, we all can be proud of.