Nine years on, it is still hard to describe the effect that September 11 had on me.
The only analogy that comes close is "The Truman Show", a movie where the main character grew up believing that he was leading a normal life, only to find out that his whole world was constructed as the set of a reality television show. I think that when he discovered the truth, it must have been similar to how I felt on that day.
It was as if my life up to that point had been a pleasant illusion, where crazy people in distant lands went around screaming "Death to America," but never really did anything about it, because our government was strong and could keep us safe.
The thing that was most shocking for me was that the people who died in the World Trade Center were mostly just drones like me, sitting in cubicles, checking their email, doing and thinking the same kinds of things that I did every day. In an instant everything was transformed for them into a world of fire and death.
I naively thought that our government would avenge their deaths, that we would quickly find and destroy our enemies. All too soon, I realized that September 11 was just another "crisis" that could not be allowed to go to waste, that petty party allegiances were far more important to our "representatives" than uniting as one behind this life-or-death mission. The legitimate goals of our military were subordinated to a twisted political correctness and a "battle for hearts and minds."
"Islam is a religion of peace," we were told repeatedly, until it became a running joke. After every subsequent security breach, we were assured that there was no indication that the perpetrators were motivated by Islamic beliefs. Surrounded as we were by images of barbarism, of so-called moderate Muslims dancing in the streets to celebrate our misfortune, I came to despise the mealy-mouthed posturing of our leaders and the media, and to distrust them entirely. Sadly, nothing since has served to change my new opinion of reality.
Sometimes I think I just want my world back the way it was. I don't know if I am better off for discovering the truth. I love my country but I fear what the future holds for me and my children.