September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

Story:During the fall of 2001, I was a junior in college, participating in a foreign exchange program in Oxford, England. I and about seventy other American college students were busily studying and reading our course materials that sunny afternoon, oblivious to the tragedies happening in the States - until some noticed the TV broadcast in our Common Room. I was using the card catalog when I overhead a few girls worriedly saying that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I wasn't concerned, and thought that a small plane had just accidentally crashed into the towers with little damage. I began to feel a bit more concerned as I headed to the Common Room to check it out, passing a few fellow students in tears. There were about thirty stunned and sobbing students sitting in the common lounge, staring at pictures of large planes crashing into the twin towers. I arrived just in time to see the last tower collapse amidst a cloud of smoke and fire - accompanied by shocked commentary in a British accent. It was immensely strange and surreal to experience that day in a foreign country, even one as friendly as the United Kingdom.

Memory:Some fellow American students witnessed the towers collapse in a mall, watching the news bulletin on TVs in an electronic store. A nearby British construction worker thought that the tragedy unfolding before his eyes was humorous, prompting an angered outburst from several of these students. In retrospect, this exchange was eerily foreboding, in that it was a small taste of the passionate, conflicting responses September 11 would evoke from Americans, Britons, and people around the world.

Affects:9-11 had both positive and negative effects on the States - initially, it brought all Americans together behind one cause (revenge, retribution, retaliation, or justifiable war - the choice of wording depends on one's political leanings). This country experienced a remarkable resurgence in patriotism and nationalism, noticeable even to those Americans overseas. Partisan activity all but ceased in an effort to locate the perpetrators of such a tragedy and to bring those people to justice. It was very refreshing to see the nation's leaders cooperate rather than continue their petty infighting. Such reactions also resulted in other, perhaps less desirable, outcomes in the Patriot Act and the martial bent of the current administration, among other things. Terrorism is certainly an evil and reprehensible activity, but I wonder about the methods currently utilized by the U.S. Should the United States be the sole policeman of the world, disregarding the rest of the nations? I think not.


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