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A changed world

NINE/ELEVEN was 15 years ago. It changed not only America, it changed everyone else in the world, emotionally, psychologically, but especially in the way we travel, watch movies, react to the explosive sounds of firecrackers, and whenever we hear, talk, and think about the word, a single word: terrorism.

Sure, terrorism has been around a long time, long before 9/11/01, but it was those passenger planes slamming into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia, USA, that captured the world’s imagination and provided mankind the bold strokes of the depth, height, width, and scale of terrorism as a contemporary weapon of war. Unimaginable images now rendered forever indelible. A changed world.

The hunt for the mastermind of the attacks on earth’s last remaining superpower would take 12 years and a toll of thousands of lives, 3,000 alone in NYC that tragic day, but when US Navy Seals finally found Osama bin Laden, looking gray and old in a house in Pakistan in 2013, and executed him with military precision, his death did not bring down the brotherhood of terrorists. Instead, they have proliferated tribally, globally, exponentially, to horrify and terrorize noncombatants. Where before we thought only Americans (as in CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, as in Hollywood) were the terrorists’ target of choice outside of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, now they and their bomb makers are here on our shores, in clusters and numbers.

We have been told not to panic and to go about our lives as normally as possible though with more vigilance and alertness. Schools receive bomb threats – hoaxes, as it turns out, but unnerving just the same. Ground time at the airport or seated in the plane, repeating the same on the homeward trip, all in compliance with security measures, can be more daunting than enchanting. Mall rats worry about Christmas – three months to go! – and the foot traffic that will multiply their parents’ fearful warnings to avoid crowded places. While Paris, Brussels, Istanbul may have lost some of their sheen as tourist destinations, how safe are we when we tour our own islands? Travel with angels.
(Jullie Y. Daza)