It began with millions of confused children across the nation’s classrooms, watching two towers collapse in what would soon become one of the most famous video clips in American media. It ended with the same children, now college-aged and old enough to defend the country.
“It” was a decade-long hunt for America’s “Most Wanted” terrorist, Osama bin Laden, who coordinated an attack with the al-Qaeda terrorist group, on the World Trade Center towers of New York and the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.
On May 2, 2011, this hunt came to an end as a team of U.S. Navy SEALs launched an operation at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a far different hiding spot from the Afghanistan mountains that experts had speculated about for years.
When the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 occurred, both children and adults alike were confused and frightened.
“I distinctly remember…the children who had family in New York and Washington, D.C. and their terrified expressions,” said Rohan Menon, a fourth-year BME major.
“The teachers wouldn’t tell us what was happening. We were just ushered into the hallways until school was over. Everyone looked so frightened,” said Suchi Patel, a third-year ISyE major.
In that moment, the nation’s only concern was making it through the rest of that uncertain day. From that point onward, the U.S. launched an active campaign against terrorism in pursuit of bin Laden and other related fugitives. Security across the nation tightened in fear of and defense against the potential for future attacks.
Despite the fear and the grief invoked by the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. experienced a renewed sense of patriotism that has been strong ever since.
“It’s…a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend—even a friend whose name it never knew,” said George W. Bush, former President of the U.S., in a speech on Dec. 11, 2001, just three months after the attack.
Just as this attack brought change to the face of the American political, social and economic landscape, it affected residents of other countries as well.
When the Sept. 11 attack occurred, Roanuk Zaman, a third-year BME major, and his family were in Pakistan. At the time, his relatives did not understand the significance of the attack, but Zaman and his immediate family left just before the Pakistani airports shut down. Residents of countries accused of housing terrorists faced massive changes as world powers began to investigate them and their weaponry.
However, time passed as the hunt for bin Laden continued, and in the wake of the terrorist attack, citizens in the U.S. continued to feel the pain of the memory.
Now that bin Laden has been killed, those haunted with the memories of the attack and saddened by the memories of their lost ones can achieve closure.
“All I have to say now is, ‘Thank God.’ It took long enough,” Zaman said of bin Laden’s death, which appeared in the news just before spring semester finals took place at Tech.
However, some do feel that the timing of bin Laden’s death was coincidentally close to elections.
“My personal opinion is that Osama has been dead for quite some time, and that our government perhaps ‘re-killed’ him to either help out with [Barack] Obama’s re-election or maybe to help us forget about the birth certificate debacle,” said Aimee Jones, a third-year CEE major.
Although bin Laden’s death is a step forward for the United States, the world has a long way to go toward peace and the dismantling of terrorist groups.
“My life and the world around me have been forever changed by Sept. 11, and I know that it will, unfortunately, continue to shape us and the way we act toward others,” said George Markou, a third-year ChBE major.