On Sept. 11 a country fell apart and pulled itself back together through the efforts of thousands and the pride of millions. No matter how many stories are told, books are written, or songs are sung, the magnitude of that day can never be expressed.

The impact of the attack has weighed on every American, affecting their lives in one way or another. Those effects have left not a scant trace, but a permanent footprint on the people of this country. The following are but a few of the most notable impressions Sept. 11 created on a nation.


Shortly following the attacks, red, white and blue could be seen waving in a display of not only patriotism, but solidarity. American flags waved from cars, poles and porches. They filled the windows of businesses and homes alike and patriotic merchandise flew off store shelves.

"The company knew we were selling a lot," said Darrin Wilson, store director for Meijer Inc., 6260 W. McGalliard Road. "We had about eight extra shipments."

Wilson said instead of having one shipment a month for that season, the store was receiving two or three a week.

The entire front of the store was used to display the extra items, Wilson said. The extra space was needed.

"American flag sales increased 500 percent for that time of year," Wilson said.


Once the severity of the attacks were realized, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded every plane in the nation to prevent further devastation.

In the months following Sept. 11, the national guard was deployed to ensure safety. The guards were stationed at check points in airports around the country, usually unarmed.

The national guard remained stationed at the Indianapolis International Airport until May, a spokesperson at the airport said. Since that time, the airport has set up its own police to help keep watch over who and what boards their airlines.

The airport's police were a product of a new federal bureaucracy, The Transportation Security Administration, which Congress created in November in response to the attacks.

This year, on Sept. 11, passengers will not notice any differences in the Indianapolis International Airport's security, the airport's spokesperson said. He said some small security changes will be made "behind the scenes," but could not comment on specifics


In a move to reassure Americans their government was protecting them, Congress quickly unleashed legislation following Sept. 11.

The USA Patriot Act was signed six weeks after the attacks, covering 350 subject areas involving 40 federal agencies.

The act included some provisions that would eventually expire, while others would remain permanent. Overall, the act gave government more power to enable them to search for terrorists who may have caused the attacks.

Ball State political science instructor Melanie Morris said most Americans may have not considered the possible violations of constitutional rights the legislation imposed.

"People want to feel government was responsible and people wanted to be safe," Morris said. "Whether or not we are safe is another issue. The perception of safety is what we're really concerned about."

Morris said many members of Congress did not read the legislation before signing it. She said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft told Senate members the nation needed the legislation and that Congress did not have time to debate it.

Further, the Bush administration imposed other legal restrictions without consulting Congress, one of which allowed government officials to monitor attorney-client conversations of suspected terrorists.

At a time of heightened fear, Morris said it's not unusual for the government to assume more power than in times of peace. But reviewing the events that unfolded after the attacks, Americans may have questioned their thinking.

"Looking back, there is that urge and hope that government will act with restraint no matter what it does," Morris said.


The attacks were more than a threat to the American people as a whole. Sept. 11 put the Muslim culture front and center, leaving it open for the entire world to criticize.

Ball State geography professor Faiz Rahman said the Muslim community immediately experienced negative and positive responses.

Rahman said he believed part of the negative response was due to television footage.

"Muslim scholars criticized the acts of the Taliban," Rahman said. "That never got on television here."

He said Muslim students had told him stories of their experiences with "being called bad names."

Instead of facing discrimination, he was being asked to educate other Americans about his culture.

"People were calling me and asking me to give presentations," Rahman said.

American Muslims first feared reaching out, asking questions and displaying any form of patriotism, no matter how strongly they felt it.

In spite of this fear, Rahman said Muslim people began to speak out, breaking the isolation the attacks had created.

"It is a good idea for both sides to try to reach out. When you put a face with a culture, it becomes a more human thing."

A nation is not defined by its laws, its losses or its gains but the unity of the people within it. Sept. 11 affected patriotism, airline security, constitutional rights, a culture and many other aspects of American life, but these effects were only small steps in a much larger footprint. Americans wear that footprint like a badge of courage and Sept. 11 will always be remembered not for the effects it caused but for the nation it redefined.


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