Larry Buford (File photo)

Sunday, September 11, 2022 marks the 21st anniversary of what’s commonly referred to as “911.” Americans for the most part hold their twenty-first birthday in high esteem. Age 21 in this country signifies that a person is officially an adult, who can now legally buy and drink liquor, and be looked upon as independently “grown.”

Turning 21 is a milestone for other things like graduating college, buying a first home or brand-new car, getting married and getting certain job positions that require being 21 in order to apply.

Since the September 11, 2001 tragedy, each year has been a milestone for me. Each year I am reminded of how much has changed, like the tight security at the airports; strict security in commercial buildings and other freedoms that were afforded pre-911. In recent years, one of my job descriptions – which was to travel to different accounts at any given time – required a security clearance in order to be issued an access keycard. I had accumulated 12 different keycards that I kept in my car at all times all because of the 911 terrorist attack on our nation.

Coming of age brings about the expectation of responsibility and accountability. Just as age 21 transitions us from adolescence to adulthood, each generation has a sobering event (or events) that serves to test or prove us to a new maturity. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Greatest Generation (GI Generation): Born 1901–1924.

The sinking of the Titanic; World War I, the 1918 influenza pandemic

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928–1945.

The 1929 stock market crash; the Great Depression; World War II

  • Baby Boom Generation: Born 1946–1964.

The Cold War; the assassination of President Kennedy, Motown music

  • Generation X: Born 1965–1980.

The Vietnam War; assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy

  • Millennial Generation or Generation Y: Born 1981–1996.

The drug epidemic; urban blight

  • Generation Z or iGen: Born 1997–2010.

Terrorist attack on 911; the Iraq war, Barack Obama elected first Black president

So, as 911 brought forth the birth of a new era in America, have we learned anything? Have we matured; have we grown up as a nation? Each generation must fight to preserve our democracy. Today, our democracy is being stretched and tested to the point of losing it! We cannot rest on the laurels of the past. We have the freedom to choose good over evil, light over darkness, justice over injustice, and right over wrong. Which do you choose?

On that fateful morning 21 years ago, those passengers on flight 93 saw that our democracy was under attack and fought to bring the plane down in Pennsylvania before it reached its target. There were many more reports of heroism on the other flights that torpedoed the Twin Towers in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington. Then think of the first responders who went into the Twin Towers knowing that they may not come out alive, and countless did not. They selflessly laid down their own lives to save others as their oath and duty called for. When is the last time you laid aside your own selfish desires to help someone else? We call ourselves a Christian nation, and that’s what Christians do.

One of the most vivid pictures that haunts me to this day is that of those trapped in the Twin Towers, and whose lives were reduced to just two choices. I wrote a poem about it:


I heard the roaring of the plane

so close I held my breath

then an explosive crash announced

the arrival of death.

The tremendous boom, the crunch, the grind

drowned out my desperate scream

great fireballs, heat so intense

I prayed it was a dream.

Fear took control – what shall I do

perish in flames or flee

I paced and cried, I cried and paced

time running out on me.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide

so far above the ground

my last wish for my loved ones was

that my remains be found.

I jumped into eternity

hell blazing at my heels

I pleaded God have mercy…

knowing my fate was sealed.

Jeremiah 8:22 reads: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them” (NIV).

I derived from that verse: “America is great, but has lost her might because she no longer enjoys the presence of The Almighty.”

The age of 911 is now 21; has America come of age yet?

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based contributor. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” and “Book To The Future (Amazon). Email: [email protected].