The world never stopped turning.
But when the Twin Towers collapsed, crumbling in an torrent of smoke, it felt as if the world had shifted on its axis. And the decade thereafter has been indelibly marked by the atrocity.
We will always remember where we were at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11. The hours that immediately followed the attack are suspended in our memories. We watched in disbelief from our homes or schools as image after image flashed before our eyes. Even as more information came out about the attack, we were wrought with a sense of incomprehension.
Ten years later, we’re still puzzling together what 9/11 means. And 10 years later, we still don’t have closure.
But for us, that might never happen. We were old enough on 9/11 to understand that the event was a national tragedy. We were young enough on Sept. 11 to realize we were growing up in a country that was sending our peers abroad and was working to heal. But mostly, we are generation that spent the most formative decade of its life in a post-9/11 world.
Life before 9/11 is the distant past for us, but the aftermath has shaped the society we grew up in.
The country embarked on two wars. Airport security tightened globally. The economy turned downward in the initial panic.
But then, the world kept turning. We visited D.C. with our classes in 8th grade. We went to our first day of high school.
Even when 9/11 wasn’t in the forefront of our minds throughout the decade, we were living in an America that was changed because of it.
This might be one of the last times the country focuses so singularly on that day of terror, but that doesn’t mean we can ever clean our memories of this atrocity. We might not pause as often to reflect, but elements of our life at GW and beyond can never entirely expel the specter of the event.
Ten years ago, GW was adjacent to the attack on the Pentagon. As students attempted to grasp the gravity of the day, smoke billowed up from across the Potomac Bridge. We no longer live in that same culture of fear, and it speaks to the resilience of the community that the University continued to thrive and grow after an attack so close to us.
Even this weekend, there was a reported credible threat of attack on D.C., but the community has remained united and resilient in the face of a fear that could have been responded to with overwhelming alarm.
In D.C., the gravity of the attacks so many years ago felt prominent even Sunday. And among the community, events surrounding 9/11 are the ones that unite us unequivocally. From the fact that we all can share a memory from that fateful day 10 years ago to last spring’s news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, we have come together around this incident, and will move forward from it together, too.
We remember. We won’t ever forget.
The world keeps turning.