September 11 Ten Years Later: Its Long Range Impact!

Tomorrow will mark ten years since the greatest tragedy in American history–the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon in suburban Virginia outside Washington, DC; and the heroism of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who prevented that plane’s hijackers from attacking the US Capitol Building or the White House by rebelling, and forcing the plane into a crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania!

Over 3,000 people died as a result of September 11, most in the Trade Center, but some in the Pentagon, and also on the the four planes involved in the terrorist plot.

Additionally, about 5,000 soldiers have been killed in the wars In Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 45,000 wounded, including a few thousand severely wounded, making more than 50,000 killed or wounded as a result of September 11.

It has been very difficult to conceptualize and cope with the tragedy of that day, and ever since in the never ending involvement in the wars against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Words cannot describe the torment that most Americans feel about this greatest of all human tragedies in American history, other than the tragic battles of Antietam and Gettysburg in the Civil War, along with the losses of our troops at Pearl Harbor which led us into World War II.

September 11 changed the American Presidency forever, making it that all Presidents in the future will have to be prepared to deal with a terrorist attack that could come at any time, no matter how much preparation and alertness Americans have. This is a never ending war that will cost us plenty in national treasure, and already has put us into economic straits worse than any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Socially, September 11 has made the country fearful of the religion of Islam, and made Americans suspicious of immigrants in general, an ugly revival of religious intolerance and of nativism, which is a massive problem for the long term, and could subject us to more danger because of hate mongers who can incite reactions by people who have no connection to September 11, and yet feel victimized.

September 11 united us briefly, but now it has led to political divisions that endanger the future of the country both domestically and in foreign policy dealings.

September 11 has also made us realize, like at the time of Pearl Harbor but then forgotten, that we are vulnerable to attack, and have been too self assured and cocky about the greatness of our nation, leading to the wrong headed attitude that we are superior and cannot be touched or threatened internally. We have learned the hard way the folly of our self proclaimed “exceptionalism”, a super nationalism which endangers our relations with other nations and makes us feel that we are best in every way, which is far from the truth!

September 11 has also endangered our Bill of Rights and civil liberties, some of it understandable, but much of it dangerous and unacceptable violations in the name of security. It has created an intrusive government which can spy on us with cameras, phones, internet and other forms of technology, and has caused the growth of so many intelligence and spy agencies that the Washington Post has published about secret governments and expenditures that we have no concept of, or ability to gain awareness of in detail!

In many ways, while we have fought the terrorism successfully, we have also become the victims, in the sense of losing our freedoms, security, contentment in being Americans, and sense of well being.

So September 11 has done great harm to us, and its impact will never dissipate, sadly!