Sept. 11 blesses, curses with expectations

Anyone 21 years old or younger who tells you they can remember, with crystal clear precision, the details of their day on Sept. 11, 2001, is a liar.

I can recall the watershed events and critical moments but other than that, your guess is as good as mine.

Which subject my sixth-grade class was learning about, what my teacher said or the exact time when mothers started overreacting and yanked their kids out of school is beyond me.

For the past decade I had to fill in the rest of that day like it was in a book of mad libs.

Those of us who graduate this spring are the pioneers of a generation who remember very little of a pre-9/11 reality.

It would be similar to being 12 years old at the end of the civil rights movement; you’d remember living in a world that was different but you wouldn’t necessarily understand the social complexities of the era and how they changed afterward.

We have a hazy memory of Sept. 11 and an even hazier memory of the time before. The world we were shaped by and matured in is a drastic contrast to the years before.

It’s hard for us to complain about the long, snaking lines going through airport security as we know not of a time when things were easier.

The words “ideology,” “Islamic fascist,” “terrorism” and “Taliban,” have been drilled into our heads by cable news networks so much that they’ve become nothing more than white noise.

To most people I know, Tom Ridge was the first secretary of Homeland Security, not the 43rd governor of Pennsylvania.

The world has drastically changed since the terrorist attacks and acting like it hasn’t is obtuse. But this paradigm shift is as exciting as it is different.

The post-9/11 era is one with bigger problems for a smaller world and it’s our generation – the one who experienced the events and aftermath firsthand – that is responsible for coming up with the solutions.

And that scares the bejesus out of everyone but us.

The ideas that governed the old world won’t work in the new one and America has a 0-0-2 record in wars this century to prove it.

Trying to fight a conventional war with an unconventional enemy serves as the perfect microcosm for how our country’s current ideas on handling emergencies, both at home and abroad, are outdated.

Like the prophet Bob Dylan said almost 50 years ago, the times they are a-changin’.

Since the baby boomers and Generation X have done a pretty poor job of managing the United States for the past decade, the time for the millennials to wrestle away control from these gray-haired geezers is sooner rather than later.

It’s time for America to ditch the equivalent of the Motorola DynaTAC and upgrade to the iPhone.

Because, after all, it’s about time that someone starts making the right calls.

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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