Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. For most Americans, it is a date that is etched in memory. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, some 91% of Americans can recall exactly what they were doing when they learned about the horrifying events unfolding in New York, Washington D.C., and in a remote field in Pennsylvania.
102 minutes that changed history
The 102 minutes that elapsed between the start of the first attack to the last has altered history over the past fifteen years and promises to continue to haunt American foreign and domestic policy for years to come. U.S. soldiers are still deployed in remote Afghanistan in what is America’s longest war with no end date in sight. Osama bin Laden, the man credited with designing the attack is dead, and ISIS has replaced al-Qaeda as the focal point of our national anger, but the fear of another 9/11 remains.
Following the heightened concerns about terrorist attacks on America’s home soil after 9/11, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which significantly expanded the ability of the government to collect intelligence information. The TSA was created to oversee security on airplanes, and Iraq was invaded over concerns that they possessed ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ that could reach the U.S.
Nearly 40% of WTC victims remain unidentified
Fifteen years after the attack, approximately 40% of the remains of the 1,113 victims of the attack are still unidentified. The New York City Medical Examiner's Office continues to test and retest human remains found at the site in hopes of providing some ultimate comfort and resolution for the families of the missing victims.
It's a place [memorial] where we can go, me and my family, to talk to Scott. But there's nothing there. We need some kind of DNA, some human remains, where you can go to and say, 'This is where Scott is.'
— Russell Mercer – Stepfather of missing FDNY victim Scott Kopytko
Majority of Americans feel another attack is likely
The Pew Research study also revealed that 40% of American’s feel that the ability of terrorists to strike within the U.S. is greater now than it was at the time of the 9/11 attack, while another 31% believe the threat is the same. About 75% of the nation lives in some level of fear of another major attack on the American homeland.
Another dramatic change in the aftermath of 9/11 is the willingness of Americans to accept a trade-off in civil liberties to protect the country against terrorism. The Pew study showed that 49% of the public feels that the government has not gone far enough in intelligence gathering to protect the public, while only 33% feel the government has gone too far in restricting civil liberties.
A pivotal moment in American history
9/11 is a date that will remain as a pivotal moment in American history and will continue to influence the direction of the country for years to come.