It Could Have Been Us: Why 9/11’s Legacy is Important to Me

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Media by Liza Cooper (she/her)

For many children and young adults born after 2001, 9/11 seems like history. To me, it is very much real. The impact this event has had on my family and life shape my every day life.

I’ve never considered myself a lucky person. I have never found a four-leaf clover or had a wish I made at 11:11 come true.

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks draws near, however, I find myself reconsidering the amount of luck I possess.

In fact, I might be one of the luckiest people in the world.

On September 11, 2001, my father was stationed at an Army base in Fort Lee, Virginia, just over 360 miles from the World Trade Center. He first saw the attack on TV as he was putting his boots on after morning physical training. After that, chaos ensued. He watched in horror as the second plane hit the towers, and later that day his commander said they might get deployed.

In almost all the stories I hear from people who witnessed 9/11, including my dad’s, confusion is prevalent. Who committed this terrible crime? Why this time, place or location? And most of all: will it happen again?

In almost all the stories I hear from people who witnessed 9/11, including my dad’s, confusion is prevalent.”

Although Fort Lee is relatively close to New York, my dad did not have to leave his station that day. ​​He was sent to Egypt 10 days after 9/11, but returned home safely several months later.

If my dad had been part of the National Guard stationed in New York, or the New York Police or Fire Department, the situation could have been drastically worse. He could have been severely injured, or one of the almost 400 servicemen killed.

My grandparents could have lost their son. My mom could have lost her husband.

I could have never been born.

But thanks to fate and luck, I am here now.

At the same time I am thanking fate, the families, friends and neighbors of the nearly 3,000 who were killed during the attacks are cursing it. Their losses resonate inside them every day.

9/11 should not just be remembered and observed on its anniversary. We need to give thanks everyday that we and the people we love are alive.”

We must honor these people and their lost loved ones. 9/11 should not just be remembered and observed on its anniversary. We need to give thanks everyday that we and the people we love are alive. This perspective helps us to empathize with those who are mourning and understand the fleeting nature of human life. 

Even though I might not win the lottery or always bet on the right team to win the Super Bowl, I’m still lucky. The legacy of 9/11 sheds light on the fact that life is a game of chance, and I am grateful for every day I have on this Earth.