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How Has America Changed Since 9/11?

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How Has America Changed Since 9/11?

Sean Adair

Sean Adair

Sean Adair

Alexander Campbell, Opinion Writer

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In the hours, days and weeks after 9/11, volunteers made their way towards what they called  “The Pile,” the area where the twin towers once stood. During that time, the search was on for any survivors of the building collapse. Nothing since the attacks have brought people together like this. Rapidly, blood banks filled to capacity. Shortly after, rescue efforts started, and volunteers began making stretchers from scrap wood. Welders went to the ruins to cut metal, and hundreds of civilians volunteered for the effort, finding twelve people alive in total.

During those rescue efforts, fires burned under the World Trade Center for three months, and in the years after 9/11, tens of thousands of Americans were reporting illnesses and exposure to toxins, although estimates from the CDC state that “Upwards of 400,000 people were exposed to toxic contaminants, risks of traumatic injury, and emotional stress in the days, weeks, and months following 9/11,” according to a September 11, 2015 article.  

Those attacks had touched America in a way nothing else had, exposing to the world that America wasn’t invulnerable. After the attacks, people from every religion, every background, and every place in America came together for the good of the people, taking the first steps in rebuilding what had been lost.

President George W. Bush stated during his address to the nation on September 11, 2001; “This is a day when Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace.”  

Of course, that idea could easily be radicalized, turning into faith for a nation which simply didn’t exist. 9/11 had also brought people apart, permanently changing how Eastern minorities, such as Muslims, were viewed with a war which America has never really fully stepped away from, where various other terror groups have risen since Bin Laden’s death, such as ISIS.

The current war has been split into two different operations, Operation Enduring Freedom, which ended in 2014, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, beginning in 2015 and continuing to the present day. Operation Enduring Freedom followed the October 7th invasion of Afghanistan, with the US working alongside a coalition of countries, such as England, Canada, Germany, Australia, as well as the Afghan Northern Alliance.

The war was massive, with Allied Forces fighting against guerilla warfare, and fighters with a belief so radical, they were willing to do anything for their belief. One of the largest moments during the war was the death of Osama bin Laden. On May 2, 2011, SEAL Team Six was tasked with the death of the leader and founder of Al-Qaeda in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. After he was killed, he was taken to Afghanistan for body identification, and was buried at sea in less than 24 hours.

Back in America, things hadn’t changed much for military recruitment. In 2001 and 2002, the military had met the recruitment requirements for the year, but was beginning to fall short of its 80,000 person goal for the year, starting in 2005. People were also enlisting for different reasons. Before 9/11, people would enlist because they would need the college money, or the training, or to get away from where they were.

The Department of Defense had issued a statement on September 8, 2011, in an article on the topic of patriotism and recruitment in the military, “Sept. 11, 2001, changed that. In the days, weeks and months thereafter, Diepenbrock, like military recruiters around the nation, watched in amazement from her Cincinnati office as people who never would have thought of joining — or re-joining, as many would have it — approached recruiters with the sole purpose of defending America”

To conclude, 9/11 had brought America together in ways nothing else had, but in the same stroke, had brought America apart in a deadly war that we are still dealing with. I believe it’s important to highlight those changes, because the world we live in is drastically different from the world that was before 9/11, and because the attacks are rarely touched on outside of news outlets. On top of that, almost every student attending East High school was born after the attacks, with no students having memories of the attacks.

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How Has America Changed Since 9/11?