The September 11 terrorist attacks were a tragedy unlike anything the United States had experienced. They set the nation on a new path and their ramifications, both big and small, are still felt today, twelve years on.
There are the obvious consequences: thousands of people who died that day, two wars, the Patriot Act, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. And then there are the more subtle and pervasive ones: our mental state, how Muslims are perceived in America. Even our architecture has changed.
On the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, host Don Marsh discussed the more subtle consequences with psychologist Ron Scott, architect Angelo Arzano, and Faizan Syed, the director of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations in St. Louis.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Angelo Arzano was at his office, four blocks from the World Trade Center. The two planes had already crashed into the towers, and he along with the other people in his building were being sent home. At that time, he felt the vibrations caused by the collapse of the first tower. He couldn't see what caused the vibrations; his friend speculated it was a third plane crashing into the stock exchange. They decided it was time to leave and rushed to the fire stairs.
"We get to the bottom of the fire stairs, open up the door, and it's pitch black," said Arzano, "and we're looking around at each other thinking we must have gone too far and we wound up in the basement. And it turned out we were on Pine Street, and there was so much dust and debris that we couldn't see the sidewalk, let alone the buildings across the street."
As Arzano described his experience that day, his emotions could be heard through every word. He says that his life hasn't changed in the day to day, but he is still reminded whenever he sees the date of 9/11 on a calendar.
"Even watching it on television, it was a traumatic event. Being in the midst of all of the dust and smoke makes it much more real and much more traumatic, and the closer you are I'm sure the more that's the case," said psychologist Ron Scott. He is the training program coordinator at Care and Counseling.
"When events come along like the theater massacre in Colorado or the Connecticut elementary school shooting, we end up with sort of spikes in anxiety in remembrance," added Scott. "We're more anxious perhaps in ways that we're not really aware of after  than we were before."
Arzano is now vice president and technical principal with architectural firm HOK. He was one of the principal architects involved with building 1WTC, also known as the Freedom Tower. He said the interior of the new building has reinforced steel, and that there is a separate staircase for firefighters and emergency responders. The stairs are also wider.
For Faizan Syed, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in St. Louis, September 11 changed the way he grew up. He was in middle school at the time of the attacks.
"I found myself becoming an ambassador for Islam everywhere I went," said Syed.
After 9/11, Islamic Americans found themselves the target of discriminatory laws in 38 states, said Syed. He would like the media to change the way they describe Islamic terrorists. Instead of focusing on their religion, he said the focus should be on their politics because that is what truly motivated them to act.
Part of the mission of CAIR is to enhance understanding of Islam. The organization is sponsoring an interfaith 9/11 day of service this afternoon at Yeatman Market.
CAIR-St. Louis Presents Interfaith 9/11 Day of Service
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
4:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Yeatman Market, 4401 Athlone Ave.