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Take It Personally: Our generation's emotions tell real story of 9/11

During the past few weeks, America was morosely aware of the approaching anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ten years past the day that would forever haunt American history, different events of remembrance were planned. Citizens were concerned, maybe even distracted, that all the hype was exploiting this tragedy    — all the while with heightened cautions of a possible second attack.

As the anniversary drew closer, you couldn’t escape the tributes that overtook the media. All this left me feeling dazed, and it took me awhile to figure out why that was.

No matter how many years have passed, and no matter how many times the horrific, defining images have flashed across the screen, the emotion it arouses has yet to fade. But on this 10th anniversary, I discovered something new about my feelings — and likely the feelings of all our generation — toward 9/11.

We can all think of countless times when we’ve been asked, “Do you remember where you were when it happened?”

Without a doubt, these conversations always lead to the loss of innocence many of us first encountered when we learned of the lives lost. We can all think of the countless documentaries and moments of silence.

I can even remember going to the movie theatre in middle school to see World Trade Center.

We were invited to attend the Peace Walk Ohio University sponsored in memorial. And although time, tradition and togetherness are meant to heal, is all of this really enough?

Of course I think it’s important to take part in the national remembrance of 9/11. As we’re seeing more and more as time passes, there is certainly no shortage of ways to do so.

Maybe you chose to take part in an activity on campus, or maybe you tuned in to a special on television or online. Maybe you’ve visited Ground Zero in the past, or watched the opening for the memorial on Sunday.

But, no matter how we chose to commemorate 9/11, the most important thing our generation can do is to take the time to personally reflect on that day in our memory.

I’ve been around to experience all of the ways that Americans today offer their reverence to the victims of the attacks. However, none move me as much as simply closing my eyes, and recalling it for myself — the images, the atmosphere and the timeline.

I’ve been told 9/11 is “the Vietnam” of our generation. This was the first anniversary I really understood what that would come to mean.

As time carries on and accounts of the disaster grow fewer, we will become the true testament of this disaster.

It is our job to remember. Therefore, it is our job to teach.

Time will not take away the footage, it won’t take away the structures and monuments constructed in reverence, but we all know what time will do to human memory.

The most raw and real memorial of the tragedy will live on in what you felt that day. Those emotions and memories tell the true story of what happened to our world on 9/11.

The anniversary has passed and many will move on for another year of their lives, but I’d hope we can all carry on this time with a new purpose: To be the generation that keeps the history of 9/11 alive.

Nicole Spears is a sophomore studying public relations and a columnist for The Post. Help her spread the story. Email her at

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