This is something I've thought about more than once:
Lance Cpl. Jacob Adams was in 5th grade math class when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. His parents took him out of school early that day.
Adams, 20, is now serving in a Marine battalion battling Taliban gunmen, many of whom were also just kids on Sept. 11, 2001. He's part of a new generation of U.S. troops inheriting the wars spawned by the terror attacks.
Many of the men and women who took part in the initial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have since left the military and moved on with their lives. The changing of the guard is a graphic and personal reminder that the fighting has dragged on longer than anyone ever imagined.
I was a freshman in high school when the towers fell -- we watched the CNN broadcast from biology class -- and of the 500 people who graduated with me in 2005, more than a handful are in the military, and quite a few of those have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. One of my good friends from high school has already served a tour in Iraq and is now serving in Afghanistan. He was 14 on 9/11.
What's most terrifying about this is that it doesn't raise any eyebrows; I've yet to meet anyone bothered by the fact that a good chunk of our soldiers were kids when we began our wars; 9/11, at most, was on the peripheral of their childhoods. Soon enough, we'll have troops in Afghanistan who could barely read when 9/11 happened, and whose memories of the event are faint, if they even exist.
In a country that wasn't acclimated to militarism and (seemingly) endless war, this might be a problem. As it stands, this is the first I've ever seen it come up in the mainstream media. Hopefully, it's not the last.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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