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The 9/11 Memorial in New York City at sunset.

It was Sept. 11, 2001. I was four years old. I don’t remember a lot from those days. However, I will always remember that day. I was in the kitchen, playing Mario Party 2, when I heard my mom crying on the phone. “Are we safe? What do you think this means? Those poor people!” my mom said. Curious, I went to the living room where the other television was, and there it was on CNN, the top of one the Twin Towers, submerged in fire and smoke.

9/11 cost the lives of 2,977 innocent people, injuring another 6,000. It was the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement. 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers lost their lives that day.

The attack was planned by the militant Islamist terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, led by its leader Osama bin Laden. The attack involved 19 participants who hijacked four planes resulting in the destruction of the World Trade Center and the partial collapse of the Pentagon’s west side.

9/11 would lead to a sequence of events that dramatically changed American and world history.

9/11 was the last time when American politics, even for a short period, put itself aside. President George W. Bush gained a historic high approval rating of 90% during the end of September 2001, and the Patriot Act, now recognized as one of the most intrusive acts of legislation into personal freedom in recent memory, was signed into law. Sadly, this period was over by the time the 2004 Presidential Election came around.

9/11 kicked off the War on Terror, a now seemingly never-ending series of various conflicts in which the United States became involved. The cause at first was justified, the United States had just had suffered the worst terrorist attack in human history, of course the U.S. should retaliate against Al-Qaeda. To suggest otherwise is foolish.

However, over time The War on Terror started to broaden to include countries that were not involved in 9/11. Then it started to broaden out to include terrorist groups completely unrelated to Al-Qaeda. I understand it’s in the name, but if you told all Americans that in 18 years, we would still be fighting terrorists in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen and Pakistan, they wouldn’t exactly be on board with The War on Terror.

9/11 started an era of wars that has cost the lives of 7,000 American soldiers and 244,124 foreign civilians.

9/11 like every major incident, created a series of conspiracies resulting in the “9/11 Truth Movement.” The movement gained enough hype that even former Representative and later Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney was a member. Asking questions is fine, but alleging that the American government killed thousands of their own civilians, costing $10 billion in damage, to justify The War on Terror is absurd.

9/11 also changed the way American Muslims were perceived. Due to the terrorists practicing a distorted version of Islam, ignorant civilians assumed that American Muslims at large were capable of terrorism, which is bigoted and untrue. In a 2017 Pew Research Poll, more American Muslims believe that targeting, killing civilians is never justifiable than the general public. No matter what religion you practice, we as Americans, are all on the same page, sadly one of the results of 9/11 is the rise of discrimation against American Muslims, which needs to stop.

It is also worthy to note some people need to stop comparing inconvenient events to 9/11. It is a slap to faces of families who lost their loved ones on that day.

Amy McGrath, currently the Democrat front-runner to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his Senate seat, said she felt the same way about President Donald Trump being elected as she did when 9/11 took place. As a former Marine, McGrath knows better, and should apologize for her remarks.

However, some go even further.

Young Turk Commentator Hasan Piker went so over the top, it was unbelievable. In addition to mocking former Navy Seal Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) for losing his eye due to an improvised explosive device, Piker dropped this stunner, “America deserved 9/11, dude. F— it, I’m saying it.”

The fact anyone can believe that 2,977 innocent Americans deserve to lose their lives because of government foreign policy, which didn’t involve them, is such a morally wicked, sick way of logic. It wasn’t just him either. There were plenty of users on Twitter who stood by Piker, justifying his stance.

The fact that some of those the users, being presumably American, are justifying the deaths of thousands of fellow citizens citing foreign policy like uncaring brats, while there are many undocumented immigrants who can only dream of being an American citizen, is a shame.

This wasn’t limited to one side however. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a politician I personally really like, decided to stop the unanimous passage of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090. Paul’s reasoning was it would contribute to the National Debt. To be fair, Paul called for an amendment, or a compromise.

It’s important that politicians help give those who sacrificed for their country the care they need. That means putting fiscal policy aside.

To conclude, 9/11 must never be forgotten, in the memory of the lives lost, the lives of firefighters and law enforcement, the lives of soldiers and foreign civilians and the lives of first responders. 9/11 reminded us that a period, however small, can achieve a time of political-less unity. 9/11 was a day that changed the world. 

Opinion Editor

Schell-Olsen has been with The News Record since Aug. 2018. He frequently writes about politics, society and elections.