Saturday, September 10, 2011

Living In Saudi Arabia And Honoring Sept. 11


Red Sea, Yanbu,Saudi Arabia


By Evan Pogue
Junior Reporter
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia – Though I was only in the second grade on Sept. 11, 2001, the catastrophes of that day remain the most significant events so far in my life.
I grew up in a small town in Southwest Louisiana, and I went to an ordinary, small public school. Although it seemed that morning that the attacks on New York City could have no direct affect on us, I knew they did.
What started like a normal morning in elementary school took a drastic turn at about eight o’clock Central Time, or 9 a.m. on the East Coast.
I remember my second grade teacher getting a call, sounding worried, then turning on the news for all of us students to see.
Even with the naïveté of seven-year-olds, we could understand that the severity of the events were great enough that it would change not only America, but the world, forever.
We were old enough to know that people die in calamities of this magnitude, and old enough to know how a family can be affected with the loss of a loved one.
Kiara Christensen
About seven years after the attacks, I packed up my bags and boarded a plane, prepared to start a new life in Saudi Arabia.
Living with my family in Saudi Arabia has given me the unique opportunity to hear the thoughts of those who were in the Middle East at the time of the attacks and those who moved over shortly after.
Kiara Christensen, a girl who moved to Saudi Arabia about six years after 9/11, remembers that day.
“Even just walking outside, you could tell something was wrong,” Christensen said. “There was a stiffness in the air.  It was a day without smiles.”
My memories are similar.  While many people I talked to only have a vague memory of the day itself, they all seemed to recall knowing the magnitude of the events, even if they were as young as six.
There is no question that the attacks on Sept. 11 were some of the most tragic in modern history.
When my sister and I learned our family might be moving to the Middle East, we were both very skeptical about our safety. We remembered hearing of terrorism stemming from the Middle East.
I asked a Saudi native who was in Saudi Arabia at the time of the attacks how it affected her country. She told me, but asked me not to use her name.
A Saudi street
“Tension grew between people, especially living in a community with mixed cultures,” she said, “mostly between Arabs and Americans.”
She also made a point to say that ever since the attacks it seemed that “Muslims” had become “terrorists.”
This is exactly the kind of thinking that influenced my sister and me when we were told about moving to Saudi.
Our skepticism was simply a ramification of hearing what we had about Arabs, that they were terrorists.
“Most people are just afraid of what they don’t know or understand,” Christensen said.
Evan Pogue in Saudi Arabia
It’s about time that people realize that not all Arabs are terrorists.  It’s about time that people understand that not all Muslims are bad people. In no way does the Islamic religion condone violence and killing.
I know that the attacks on 9/11 created false generalizations about Arabs for people all over the world.
When I realized the 10th anniversary of the attacks was approaching, I knew I wanted to write something on it.
I hope that we always remember the heroes and heroines who risked their lives on that day, and those who innocently lost their lives.
My heart goes out to all those who lost friends or family in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
I wanted pay respects to those who died and those who lost someone on that day, but I also thought that if by writing this, I could change at least one person’s opinion of Arabs or of the Islamic religion, it would be well worth the time.

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