Milestone of a new epoch
Our youngest soldiers and sailors weren’t even born on 9/11/2001, 18 years ago. But they learned about the unfathomable attacks from friends and family, experienced service members, and in the classroom.
While not well publicized, the threat of radicalism and non-state actors was recognized by the US government prior to 9/11/2001. There were attacks at US Embassies overseas, as well as damage inflicted upon USS Cole in 2000. Those attacks were “over there”.
The 9/11/2001 attacks brought the American public into a new national security mindset. The “Middle East” replaced the Soviet Bloc in the national conscious.
National unity and shared sacrifice
Banker and firefighter, secretary and executive, General and Private all faced mortality during the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Western Pennsylvania.
When air travel resumed, there were no fast-lanes at airport security, and first-class passengers gave up their metal cutlery for several years. Major, sweeping legislation such as the Patriot Act was passed with wide bipartisan support.
The experience and memories of a fateful day 18 years ago rests on geography and station of life. New Yorkers recall lost neighbors and family members, and the constant smoke cloud. Washingtonians changed their commuting routes in light of the national emergency. In other quarters there was righteous indignation. The US Coast Guard, then predominately a maritime safety organization, would be incorporated into the newly-created Department of Homeland Security with a new counterterrorism mandate.