Last Thursday my COM 117 classmates and professor engaged in a very interesting conversation about September 11th coverage that basically left me speechless. I couldn’t think of a way to express what I was feeling during class but after contemplating for a few days, I think that I finally know what to say.
To give some background about my situation, I’ve been a military child since before I was born. My father served in the United States Army for 26 years and just retired in June. We were stationed in Washington D.C. during the 9/11 attacks and my Dad often worked in the Pentagon. The day of the attacks, we knew that he had a meeting in the building (the office that his meeting was supposed to be in was actually in the direct area of the plane crash). The phones were tied up all day and we did not know if he was safe until very late that night. It took him 6 hours to get home, usually a 1 hour commute. He finally got through to my Grandmother via telephone, who called my Mom to let us know he was safe.
These attacks changed my life at a very young age. It was my first encounter with the concept of evil and my first idea of death. Two years later, my family was stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany and my Dad was deployed to Iraq twice. I’ve always remembered 9/11 as a huge turning point in my military life and my understanding of war, terror, and life in general.
Because the attacks hit so close to home for me and changed my life, it’s hard for me to hear that the other children my age didn’t experience that day the same way that I did. Some of my friends even claim that they hardly remember the event. Conversations of 9/11 and the war on terror often prevent me from participating in class discussion because I don’t know how I will be perceived.
The other day in class, when we talked about how the media covered 9/11, Iraq & Afghanistan, and Vietnam I made several personal conclusions.
1. These events need to be censored to some degree for the sake of the families affected and the images that were exposed on 9/11 are enough to be burned into our minds forever.
2. The Vietnam war was covered entirely too much. The families of those soldiers who died on broadcasted television will never recover. It’s impossible. More censorship would have been better in this case.
3. The Iraq & Afghanistan wars are not covered enough. I’ve heard these wars classified as ‘wars that do not affect us,’ a statement that stuns me because they have been affecting my life daily for 9 years. When these wars are covered, only deaths and hatred for politicians are portrayed. The actual progress that has been made in Iraq and Afghanistan is seldom reported.
I feel like during September 11th, the media handled the situation in the best possible way. But honestly, I’m bitter about the way they have handled the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. If I was around for Vietnam, I’m sure I’d be bitter about that too.
As the anniversary of September 11th comes and goes all of the families affected by terrorism, in any form, will be in my heart, as they always are.