They've been marked by 9/11 more than they know. It was their first moment of historical consciousness. Before that day, they didn't know what history was; after that day, they knew they were in it.
It was a life-splitting event. Before it they were carefree, after they were careful. A 20-year-old junior told me that after 9/11, "a backpack on a subway was no longer a backpack," and a crowded theater was "a source for concern." Every one of them used the word "bubble": the protected bubble of their childhood "popped." And all of them said they spent 9/11 and the days after glued to the television, watching over and over again the footage—the north tower being hit by the plane, the fireball. The video of 9/11 has firmly and ineradicably entered their brains. Which is to say their first visual memory of America, or their first media memory, was of its towers falling down.Noonan captures perfectly the way I and those my age felt on and after September 11th, 2001. I was 9 years old at the time, living in Pheonix, Arizona. When my siblings and I got up for school, our parents told us there had been "a bombing." As more information came in and the body count rose, my protective bubble burst; I now knew that there was a world outside of my immediate experience and sometimes very bad things happened in it.
May God have mercy on the souls of all who died that day and may He protect our country from those who would do us harm. Amen.