I was ten years old and in fifth grade on September 11, 2001. I cannot say that 9/11 marked the end of my childhood, but it was the beginning of a long process towards who I would become. I was never easily scared as a child even the threat of a tornado hitting my Iowa suburb fascinated rather than terrified me. And yet for nearly a year after 9/11, I would have nightmares every time I fell asleep; images of bombs exploding, airplanes crashing, etc., would rush through my head, to the point that I dreaded sleep. Every time I heard an airplane fly overhead, my body would tense up, and I would listen very closely for any sign that it might be getting too close, that it might be ready to crash. I was convinced that World War III was on the horizon and that it would be the end of human civilization. My mom tried to calm me and tell me it wasn't in my hands, that if a bomb were to explode or if a war were to break out, I could not stop it. But I refused to believe her.
And that refusal to believe her that refusal to stand back while the world is engulfed in flames was what led me to decide to go into foreign diplomacy. Of course, the road to my choice was more winding than that, but for the most part it comes down to my belief that peace and safety are within our reach, that even if we cannot rid the world of war and hate, we can at least work towards a goal where those things do not threaten so many lives every single day. It is this belief that has led me to be a Political Science and French/Arabic major at the University of Iowa. When I have finished my undergraduate studies, I hope to attend the Monterey Institute of International Studies and earn an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies.
Osama Bin Laden's death is a victory for the US, but his death by no means makes for the end of global terrorism. Terrorist acts big and small will continue to happen daily around the world. But with each new day we make headway; with each new day, every government and individual that promotes peace and tolerance takes one more step towards a safer world. I have been deeply affected by 9/11. But like so many Americans and like so many others whose nations, cities, societies, and families are terrorized I will continue to strive towards a safer world instead of letting my feelings of fear and doubt propagate hate, intolerance, and violence.
Williams is a sophomore at the University of Iowa studying political science, French and Arabic. She was 10 years old on 9/11.