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On Sept. 11, 2001, at 8:48 a.m., the world as we knew it ceased to exist. The terrorist attack on America has altered our way of life. It has brought out feelings of patriotism and fear that our generation has never experienced.

The sun rose on Sept. 11 just like any other day. But it ended leaving a gaping hole in the heart of every American. When the terrorists flew their hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they did not merely devastate the people inside. All people, all over the world were left scarred, whether it be emotionally or physically.

The only world we as teenagers have known is one of relative peace. America was untouchable. We were the world. The attack on America has shown us that we are not untouchable. There is a whole faction of the world that wants us to pay for our wrongs and our arrogance. And until Sept. 11, this wasn't so crystal-clear and so very upsetting.

Objects once so commonplace are now too disturbing. Planes flying over Buffalo once were annoying because they made too much noise. Now seeing an airplane, you wonder, Is it hijacked?, Are they going to crash?, Are they going to bomb Niagara Falls? Looking at a box cutter makes you wonder how so much evil could consume the terrorists when they used it to slit the throats of innocent Americans. Watching the constant news reports makes you feel nauseous, but flipping the channel to normal programming makes you feel sinful. Seeing a picture of New York City without the World Trade Center glistening over the Hudson River makes you shiver with fear. Whenever Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw says, "This just in," your heart skips a beat and beads of sweat form on your forehead. While always important, American flags have now become a necessary accessory to citizenship.

Things that were once important now seem trivial. How can you laugh at a joke or dance to music when innocent people are in pain? Study for a math test when people could be alive underneath the remains of the World Trade Center? Make plans to see a movie when the most important event in American History is unfolding before our very eyes?

We, as a country and a generation, need to mourn, to heal, and to move on. While the unsettling images of Tuesdays attack will remain with us forever, we can't let the terrorists win. Our nation has always been a sanctuary, and will remain so for as long as we are committed to keeping it that way.

So don't be afraid when a plane flies overhead. Don't be ashamed to belt out your favorite song. Let life go on.

But remember to tell your children what the world was like before Sept. 11, 2001.

Christine Szudzik is a senior at Mount Mercy Academy.

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