Ashley Scheffler Essay
Rose on a Grave
By Ashley Scheffler
Imagine a little girl placing a freshly cut rose over her father’s name inscribed on one of the bronze plates surrounding a reflection pool. Perhaps this girl is so young that this is the only thing she has to remember he father by — his gravestone. The closest thing she will ever have to holding his hand will be running her fingers over the cold markings spelling his name. Her heartache and loss, like millions of people in our country, is caused by events that happened over a decade ago. On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four planes with the intent of committing mass murder and destruction. Flight 11 and Flight 175 were flown into the Twin Towers, which caused their collapse soon after, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, and Flight 93 crash-landed in a field in Pennsylvania. A total of 2,977 innocent people lost their lives – most due to the collapse of the World Trade Center (September 11th Fast Facts). The events that transpired on September 11, 2001 created ripple effects that still echo through history to present day. 9/11 impacted the nation as a whole in numerous ways. Since that day, xenophobia, or the fear of foreigners, has increased dramatically and the war on terror has erupted, forever altering the lives of thousands.
Some Americans may claim that relations between U.S. citizens and those of Middle Eastern descent remain unchanged. They reason that because they lived here, they were affected in the same ways as other people were. However, their theory is flatly contradicted in cases like Raisuddin Bhuiyan. His story, as told in the book The True American by Anand Giridharadas, was an instance where xenophobia and hatred for those who resembled the stereotypical appearance of Muslims, moved a person to commit an act of violence. On September 11, 2001 in Dallas, Texas, and American named Mark Stroman shot and nearly killed Raisuddin Bhuiyan, who happened to be a Bangladeshi immigrant (Giridharadas 26). After entering Rais’s workplace, Stroman asked his victim, “Where are you from?” Without waiting for a response, Stroman shot Bhuiyan in the head, attempting to murder him (Giridharadas 27). Although Rais survived the attack, his life was impacted forever. He has to live with the realization that a complete stranger endeavored to end his life, merely because his attacker though he resembled a person who might have been from the same region as the terrorists. Sadly, Raisuddin Bhuiyan is not the only person who has been the victim of racial prejudice, or the violence caused by it. Event in 2015, 14 years after the 9/11 attack, American citizens who appear to be Muslin are discriminated against.
A few people may have the assumption that this day did not truly play a role in the start of the war on terror, that we would have chosen the path of war regardless of these events. However, without this attack, Americans may never have been shaken so violently out of their everyday lives to realize and take action against terrorism. Days after the tragedy occurred, former President George W. Bush addressed the nation. In a famous speech he stated, “Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution…justice will be done…Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated” (qtd. In September 11, 2001: Attack on America Address). Since these words, wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq have taken place, and Osama Bin Laden has been executed. Also, the Patriot Act, a controversial law that gives the government the authority to infringe on the privacy of a suspected terrorist, has been used to seek out potential threats. These events continue to affect thousands of American families today whose loved ones contribute to this effort. Although progress has been made in this endeavor to put an end to terrorism, acts of terror are still plaguing nations today. It is debatable as to whether it will ever be completely extinguished.
As we continue to heal from the tragedy that caused widespread suffering and pain throughout our nation, we must remember the lives lost. On that day not only were firefighters, policemen, passengers on planes, and people in the buildings killed; the lives of thousands of mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and children were lost. On September 11, 2001, thousands of people woke up as if it were any other day, not knowing it would be their last. 2,906 people went to work in the towers that morning, but most never came out (9/11 Death Statistics). The impacts of this tragedy affected Americans since the very day the attacks and continue to afflict thousands today. Xenophobia, unjust prejudice, and a strong hatred for those who appear to be Muslim flows through the veins of many Americans. Wars have been fought in an effort to end terrorism. With the assistance of the Patriot Act, terrorists have been actively searched out and executed. 9/11 was the foundation of a new era in American history. Because of it, our nation knows the sorrow and the loss accompanied by disaster. Ground Zero is a reminder of all the lives taken too soon—a reminder of all the tomorrows that the 2,977 people who lost their lives will never have. It is a reminder that even something as simple as a rose held in the small hands of a little girl can unify the millions of voices all echoing the same words: America remembers 9/11. We remember…and we will never forget.
“9/11 Death Statistics—Statistic Brain.” 2014 Statistic Brain Research Institute. Statistic Brain, 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.
Giridharadas, Anand. The True American. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2014. Print.
“September 11, 2001: Attack on America Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People; September 20, 2001.” Yale Law School Avalon Law Project. Yale University, 2008. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.
“September 11th Fast Facts.” CNN.com. Cable News Network, 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.