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A generation later: What have we learned?

This year, the date crept up on me unexpectedly, catching me off guard. As I reflect on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, a day that I am grateful to have survived, I find myself feeling angry. Perhaps some of this anger stems from my personal losses this year, such as my father’s passing from COVID and my impending unemployment. However, I am also angry at the state of our country and the world since that tragic day: the rise of authoritarianism, the unleashing of racism and bigotry, the ongoing pandemic, and the failure of my own field, journalism, to effectively address these challenges. It has been a generation since 9/11/01, and yet it seems we have not learned from the attacks. The same authoritarian forces that attacked us then are now attacking from within. Journalism, my chosen profession, has failed to properly inform the public and instead seems to treat the rise of fascism as just another spectator sport. While our current president, Biden, has made strides in strengthening our nation and economy, journalism continues to focus on trivial matters like jet lag instead of addressing the real issues at hand. On that fateful day in 2001, as I made my way to work through the World Trade Center, I made the decision to leave my job and pursue a career in teaching. Now, as I leave that role, I question what impact I have truly made. I can only hope that my students will be the ones to turn around journalism, as my generation has failed in this regard. Despite my anger, I am still grateful to have survived 9/11/01. The memories and lessons of that day will forever be etched into my being and have shaped who I am. I regret that the unity and spirit in our nation was twisted into a war in Iraq, and I worry about the state of politics worldwide. However, on this day, I will try to rise above my anger and instead remember the names of those who were lost and the brave first responders who rushed towards danger and showed mercy. This is a day for remembrance and gratitude towards them. The only fitting way to honor those who perished on 9/11/01 is to acknowledge the evil that took them and for our institutions – government, politics, journalism, education – to work towards protecting present and future generations from the threat of fascism. 

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