Five years later

Since 9-11, the American government and military, led by President George W. Bush, have had a high profile on the international scene.

"Now the United States is the first truly global superpower. I think what 9-11 has done is pushed us to define what role we'll play as that unopposed superpower," Associate Professor of Political Science Ryan Beasley said.

Beasley said the U.S. government has not made the wisest choices.

"I don't think (the attack) weakened us, but I think our response to 9-11 has," he said.

A month after the attacks, American troops were sent into Afghanistan to begin the "War on Terror."

"What you have here is a very common pattern in the United States," Associate Professor of Political Science Bruce Anderson said. "We tend to react with violence."

From the Taliban, the Bush administration turned its focus to Operation Iraqi Freedom, a mission which began March 20, 2003, to rid Iraq of leader Saddam Hussein and his regime.

"I think that's clearly been a mistake and cost us in terms of allies, credibility, and it's generated more resentment than it eliminated," Beasley said.

Bush announced Aug. 31 Iraq had become the "front line in the War on Terror," drawing connections between the concern of 9-11 and the war in Iraq.

"That's why you see this push for support on the five-year anniversary," Beasley said.

The support by the American people that once existed for war efforts has seemed to linger, Beasley said.

"There was a lot of support for the war in Afghanistan," Beasley said. "The longer this war stays on our front pages, the less stomach we're going to have for it and for wars like it."

Both of the war efforts have redefined war and the tactics used, Anderson said.

"If there's a war on terror, it's not going to be fought by conventional means, and it's a war that cannot be won. It's a war of containment," he said. "One of the lessons we've learned the hard way is we don't lose face by extracting ourselves from impossible situations. "

On the fifth anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, memories of the events, stories, images and consequences return to the minds of Americans who saw tragedy strike American soil.

Sandy Davidson, advising and tutoring coordinator for Student Academic Services, said she was at home that day.

"It was a difficult day. I couldn't stop crying for a week. Everyday it would come in waves, and I couldn't stop crying just from the sadness of the loss," Davidson. "I finally realized the reason I was so sad was I couldn't contact my son, who was in Thailand and Cambodia for the month."

Disconnected from those she valued most, Davidson said she couldn't stand the thought of not knowing if her son, who boarded his plane the morning of 9-11.

"It sounds so selfish, but when something horrible happens, you just want to be close to the people you love the most, and I couldn't be," she said.

As time progresses, the events of 9-11 are remembered not only as emotions and personal memories, but in other ways, as well.

Junior Andrew McGregor said Americans' current historical perspectives tend to focus on 9-11 with a lack of historical scope.

"Looking back, I think their perspective is skewed. It's seen as an isolated incident. You don't hear about the Madrid bombing or the things that happened in London," he said.

Regardless, the act of defining 9-11 is one that cannot be done after a mere five years, Assistant Professor of History John Richards said.

"The perspective changes. It's always dangerous to isolate events and draw conclusions. No event happens by itself," Richards said. "It's quite possible that something far worse can happen. I hate to say it."

A year after the attacks on 9-11, a poll conducted by a nondenominational religious group showed that millions of Americans were trying to be more religious.

Today, the religious climate in America continues to see a number of changes.

"I think immediately, there was a big impact. People were like 'Wow. This could happen. I should get to know God,'" junior Andrew McGregor said.

McGregor said 9-11 served as a catalyst for a religious movement that had started prior to the attacks.

"9-11 has inarguably raised fear as the No. 1 emotional topic in America," Associate Professor of Communication Susan Emel said. "For me, it's just a matter of logic that if people are more and more focused on fear, they're going to turn to religion."

As religious American population, a debate has risen over the use of religion in political dialogue.

"The blur between church and state is huge," Emel said. "We keep church and state separate because we don't want the state controlling how we practice our own religions.

A positive that Emel said she has seen is the increase in understanding.

"I think people are more knowledgeable about Islam. People are not only more knowledgeable. They want to be more knowledgeable about it," she said.

DeSpain said that religious comprehension is necessary to resolve conflicts between groups.

"To my knowledge, terrorism is not a tenet of any major world religion," DeSpain said. "Across the world's religions, there are people of liked minds who want peace, who abhor terrorism and abhor the attacks of 9-11."

In September 2004, a report issued by Amnesty International showed racial profiling had become a serious issue in the years since 9-11.

Junior Marck Kabbany lived in his parents' native Lebanon for four years after being born in the United States.

"It's nothing huge that totally affects my life, but I always hear jokes. They don't mean it in a malicious way, but it really bothers me," he said.

Kabbany said he has witnessed first-hand the cultural phenomenon of racial profiling.

"This had made my family go through what other oppressed groups in America have gone through," Kabbany said. "Almost everyone in America's history has gone through that, and now, I guess it's turned to Arabs."

Associate Professor of English Tracy Floreani said the academic world has embraced an academic approach to compassion.

"I think there's been a complete reversal, at least in the academic culture. I think there's been an attempt to understand those parts of the Middle East that aren't fundamentalist," Floreani said.

Assistant Professor of Physics Mahmoud Al-Kofahi spent his life in his homeland of Jordan with stints in Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world besides his seven years in the United States.

"There is a great need for understanding between Americans and Arabs, and I'm confident that once such a better understanding is achieved, they will find a common strong ground for cooperation and prosperous, good relations," he said.

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