Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
I was born in Sousse, Tunisia, a town nestled on the Mediterranean coast, where my father was born and raised. Before the Jasmine Revolution, no one knew where it was. Now they do.
My father was raised Muslim, and my mother was raised Catholic. They taught me people from different backgrounds can get along. They can even fall in love on occasion. My parents are still married after 42 years. We celebrate holidays for both traditions, and I've grown to encompass the best of both.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
After the planes inflicted their devastation on New York City on 9/11, my first prayers went to the victims, first responders and the soldiers I knew would soon be deployed. Then I prayed for the families of those affected by the destructive choices made by a few extremists that day.
Then my prayers went up for my father's protection.
With his thick foreign accent, curly salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes, those frightened after 9/11 could easily mistake him as "one of them." I feared deeply for his safety then, and I still fear for him today.
My concerns have merit. Near where my father lives, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner, was murdered because he was perceived to be Arab by a foolish man agitated from the news of the attacks.
That kind of ignorance haunts me. I traveled many times with my father without incident. However, after 9/11, he's constantly pulled aside by TSA agents, his bags searched -- given the full treatment, so to speak -- just in case.
My father is American and has been a naturalized citizen for most of his adult life. My brother currently serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was stationed in Iraq. My family is patriotic because we understand the treasure that is the American Dream.
I know who I am and who my father is. I know my family and am proud to be a part of it. Yet, I don't volunteer information about my heritage because I don't know what kind of response I'll get.
"Your family in Tunisia will all burn in Hell unless they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior," my born-again neighbor told me.
As a second-grade kid, I thought, "That can't be true." Later, when the neighbor told my mother the same thing, Mom replied, "That's funny. That's what the Muslims say about you, too." The neighbor looked shocked initially, and then her look softened as she and my mother shared a good laugh at the truth of that statement.
As much as I'm horrified by 9/11, I am immensely grateful for 9/12.
9/12 was a day when neighbors looked out for each other; blood banks were fully supplied with donations and people everywhere wanted to help. Globally, humanity united to say, "We are all Americans."
Since then, the social climate has become increasingly divisive, at times volatile. Regardless, I'm determined to make decisions that result in more 9/12 moments so terror will not win. That's how 9/11 continues to change me today.