Impact of 9/11 remains in youth today

Airman 1st Class Whitney Hagood, 460th Force Support Squadron customer service technician, stands in front of the American flag, Sept. 10, 2019, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Like herself, Hagood believes younger generations are still joining today because of the events of Sept. 11. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael Mathews)

460th Space Wing/ Published September 10, 2019

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --When we think of those affected by the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, we typically think of the generation who were already adults. The truth is the events from that day will forever shake the generations to come. 

“I lived in a small town in Texas at the time, and I just remember being scared,” said Airman 1st Class Whitney Hagood, 460th Force Support Squadron customer service technician. “I could not fathom why airplanes were flying into buildings; I could not understand why thousands of people were dying, and the thing I couldn’t understand the most is why someone would do that sort of thing.”

Hagood was 9 years old when the towers fell. This event changed a young girl’s perception, revealing the true danger in the world.

“When I figured out the intentions behind the attacks, I couldn’t believe that such animosity exists,” said Hagood. “I could only wonder how many people were going to continue to die and if I was going to die.

“My mother reassured me that our military would take care of us,” added Hagood. “It was the first time I ever understood the purpose of the military; all I wanted was to help out like they did.”

When Hagood grew up, she did not join the military immediately. For many years, she carried the notion that she did not have what it took to wear the uniform, thinking that she could never be a hero, but still felt a desire to serve her country.

She decided to be a schoolteacher and shape the young minds of children. It wasn’t until after she married her husband that she experienced what it was like to be a part of the military community. After some self-reflection, Hagood decided to join the U.S. Air Force in 2018.

“I’m completely proud of the fact that Whitney joined the United States Air Force,” said Mark Hagood, her father. “Whitney needed to find her path in life, and she needed something that also have her a feeling of self-worth. Joining the military fulfilled both of those things and has helped her find confidence in herself.”

Public service, like the military or first responders, is on a volunteer basis. It takes brave men and women to step forward and be on the front lines when called to duty.

Hagood credits the military and first responders for getting the country through that hard time and showing the world there are still good people out there. Hagood believes younger generations are still joining today because of the events of Sept. 11.

“I think terrorism is something that is more apparent now than it was before, and I think it’s always going to be around,” said Hagood. “I believe our military and first responders are needed now more than ever.”

To honor those who lost their lives to the evil of Sept. 11, Hagood only wishes to spend her day in silence and mourn all who were lost. 

“I sit in silence and reflect because the world stood still that day, there are no words to explain the horrors that happened,” said Hagood. “I believe the only way to respect those events is by staying silent.”

As we look back on Sept. 11 and the horrors that came with it, we owe a great debt to those who gave their lives on that day and to those who continue to take care of our country and protect the American people -- we will never forget.

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