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9/11 Reflection: 11 Years Later

My birthday has always been a fun day to spend with family and friends. But after the 9-11 attacks, it has been forever been marred by an unspeakable act of violence that continues to haunt us 11 years later.

In the movie Sixteen Candles, the nerd character played by Anthony Michael Hall sings, "Today is your birthday, Da-na-na-na-na-na! It's my birthday too!"

This was a popular song for me to sing on my birthday, Sept. 11, but ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I haven't been able to sing.

It wouldn't be appropriate.

I was on the campus of Sacramento State University when news first broke out that the nation had been attacked. I remember the horror of watching the towers fall, the terrible footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the fear of not knowing who was behind the attacks.

The day wasn't supposed to turn out that way. Not just for me because it was my birthday, but for the thousands who died that day and those who continue to die overseas fighting the war on terror.

Today, I reflect on the day that forever changed this nation and think about the ways that it has personally affected me, aside from messing up my birthday.

I think of my friend , who was killed while serving in Iraq. Jerry was manning an Army checkpoint in the Baghdad area when insurgents attacked the checkpoint with an improvised explosive device. 

The bomb was attached to a car that insurgents drove towards the checkpoint, toward my friend. Jerry was doing the job that so many of our young men and women are doing oversees to ensure our freedom here in the U.S., and prevent future 9/11's from happening. I think about each and every single one of them.

I think of all the security measures taken at local airports - the grumbling of passengers as they pass through security checkpoints. I think of the way that air travel has changed altogether, and the ways that our enemies would attack us when we are at our most vulnerable. And I get angry.

I think about the death of Osama Bin Laden and can't help to feel a sense of closure, at least for the events of 9/11. But I know that there are others who are willing to take his place, to harm us in our own back yards. And I realize that 9/11 still affects all of us today.

I also think about the ways that people memorialize the day and set it aside as a day of remembrance.

Carlos Villatoro is an editor at Patch.com. 

What are your memories of 9/11? How does the day continue to affect you?

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bruce mallon September 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
When we suffered the attack on America we must never forget that many signals were ignored by the Bush administration because they didn't want to know of an attack plan that was uncovered by the Clinton administration. Bush/Cheney had an invasion of Iraq plan in the hopper before the attack. The 9/11 crashes were the golden opportunity for the invasion of Iraq to steal their oil. If we wanted retribution for the attack we would have bombed Saudi Arabia where the terrorists originated. We were duped and are continuing to be fooled and our freedoms have been eroded in the process with this phoney Homeland Security foolishness. Our nation is stronger and smarter than to be living in this fantasy of fear. We need to start to rebuild our crumbling democracy and rid our government of those who want us to fail for political gain.
Bill Fishman September 12, 2012 at 05:59 PM
My son was walking through a park in Arlington, Virginia when the plane hit the Pentagon that day. He felt the impact, heard the crash, and saw terrified people running from the direction of the tragedy. Whether for better or worse, the experience moved him to further his education in the field of international security -- and he has become a recognized expert on Al Qaida. What we have learned, talking with him about terrorism generally, is that trying to politicize it does not help. We have needed to throw away the book on how we look at potential threats. We need to sharpen the pencil in analyzing who to fear and who not to. That means being able to differentiate between people who hate us AND people who mean to do us harm. That kind of subtle thinking is not easy; but it is critical if we are to catch the people who are dangerous to us and avoid radicalizing those who are not.

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