Never forget: how 9/11 changed the world

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 The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are coming up on their 20-year anniversary. The attacks caused nearly 3,000 deaths and over 25,000 injuries. It remains the deadliest terrorist attack in history in the U.S. The aftermath of the attacks resulted in an economic recession, lockdowns, changes to U.S policy and several wars.  

     The impact is still being felt to this day, two decades later, but one thing is becoming more apparent the more time passes: Less people are remembering.  

     Remembering the attack does not mean having to have been present during that time period and witnessing it first-hand or on a television screen. For 9/11, the phrase “never forget” takes on a new meaning. Not just to remember, but to learn. To pass on the stories and knowledge. To honor lost life. To teach. To engage. To prevent similar, terrible attacks. 

     Most of the UCCS student body is either too young to remember 9/11 or were not even born yet. Therefore, it is more important now than ever to recognize what that pivotal day did to our nation — and the world — and how it still affects us today.  

     Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” By his logic, we must ensure that history, especially the things that are hard to talk about, survive and endure so that we are prepared to protect our futures. 

     Since 9/11, the world has adapted in an effort to do just that: protect our futures.  

     These are some of the ways that 9/11 has changed the world: 

The creation of the Transportation Security Administration  

     Prior to 9/11, anyone could board an airplane without taking off certain clothing items or removing items from their carry-ons. Passengers could also bring liquids, gels or aerosols of any quantity with them on the plane.  

     That all changed in the aftermath of 9/11, as the U.S government created the Transporation Security Administration to monitor the security and safety of air travel.  

     Most notably, TSA enforces strict guidelines on items that are and are not permitted on airplanes. 

     So, whenever you have to arrive at an airport three hours early, wait in long lines, and maybe even miss your plane because you got stopped at TSA for a water bottle you are not allowed to have, remember that this process serves an important purpose.  

The passage of the Patriot Act  

    Forty-five days after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act. The new law expanded the government’s authority to spy on citizens.  

     The Patriot Act allowed the government to monitor American’s phone and email communications, bank and credit reporting records and internet activity without their consent, according to the ACLU. 

U.S invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq 

    The death toll following the events of 9/11 is significant, and something to be acknowledged. 

     The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in response to terrorism and 9/11 after identifying al-Qaeda and leader Osama Bin Laden as the responsible party. The war persisted for nearly 20 years. 

     This war resulted in the deaths of about 2,448 American service members and the deaths of more than 45,000 Afghan civilians, according to NPR.  

     The United States also invaded Iraq in 2003 due to fears of the development of weapons of mass destruction that could possibly be used in further terror attacks. The war in Iraq lasted until 2011 and resulted in over 4,700 U.S. and allied troop deaths, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. 

     About 112,571 Iraqi civilians died during the war and the war cost 1 trillion dollars, the Borgen Project reported.  

     Approximately 150 journalists were also killed during the Iraq war, according to the Huffington Post.This is the highest death toll reported of journalists in any war.  

Broadcast media 

    News media was changed forever on Sept. 11 as well. According to MSN, broadcast networks carried news for 93 straight hours. Footage and images of the attack were broadcast across all networks: CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, etc.  

     Never before had so many viewers watched live news coverage at one time. The Washington Post reported that at least 80 million people tuned into the evening news on the evening of Sept. 11.  

    The events of 9/11 were so heavy and consequential that broadcast media pivoted to cover more serious global topics, including terrorism and foreign policy. 

Discrimination against Muslim Americans  

     Hate crimes against Muslim Americans increased immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the year 2001, there were 481 hate crimes reported against Muslim Americans, according to the FBI.  

     During the previous year, 2000, only 28 hate crimes were reported, however, hundreds of hate crimes against Muslim Americans have been reported each year in the United States since 2001.  

     It is time for us to not just learn about the tragedy that 9/11 caused to our infrastructure but to specific minority groups in America. The forgotten stories of these individuals are also part of this event, and they too should not be forgotten.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems 

     First-responders, survivors and people who were near the attacks that occurred on 9/11 continue to battle mental and physical health problems.  

     88% of first responders reported at least one 9/11-related ear, nose or throat problem, and one in five first responders report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to WebMD. 

     A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 11% of the population of New York City developed PTSD symptoms following 9/11. 

     One in five Afghanistan and Iraq veterans suffer from PTSD as well, according to RAND. 

     What continued to happen after the attacks and in the subsequent wars left its tolls on our military members, first-responders, general population, families and so much more. What they went through and continue to battle is part of both the retaliative and preventative measures taken against the war of terror. They should never be forgotten as we move temporally further away from this tragic point in history.  

     Deaths of thousands and damage to our American infrastructure, changes to our laws and creation of new organizations to create preventative measures against terrorism, discrimination as a result of tragedy, and the after-effects of war. This is why we remember 20 years later; this is why we never forget 9/11.  

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.
A white rose is left near the name of a victim.
Photo by Megan Moen.