For every generation, there are days and events that are “turning points” in life. For many people in Japan, the Hanshin earthquake in 1995 or the Tohoku tsunami in 2011 are major events. For people my age in Canada and America, the terror attacks on Spetember 11th, 2001 is an event we will never forget.
I was living in Canada at the time, studying at university. On September 11th we had just started a new school year. I remember that I was in the cafeteria buying breakfast when the cook told me that something had happened in New York. All the students that came to school watched the events on TV that day. Nobody went to class.
9/11 actually involved 4 airplanes. Two hit the World Trade Center in New York, one hit the Pentagon building, and one more crashed in a field because the passengers, who learned of the first three planes, fought the terrorists. Their heroic actions saved lives.
All other airplanes flying to America had to land somewhere else. Many of those planes came to Canada. The tiny town of Gander, population 12,000, accepted 38 planes and almost 7,000 passengers and crew. People opened their homes to strangers in need. It is now a famous story of friendship between Canada and America.
After 9/11, America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only recently did they leave Afghanistan, making the 20 year war the longest in America’s history. A whole generation of children in both countries have never known peace. The image of muslims around the world was damaged by these events, leading to prejudice and fear.
Even though it was 20 years ago, every 9/11 I wake up thinking about that day. I probably will for the rest of my life. For you, it is something from your history book. Today, covid-19 is the defining event of your generation. You will remember pre-covid and post-covid, how things were before, and how they were after. Hopefully if we all work together, it is something that your children will only read about in their history books.