This Sept. 11 marks the seventeenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which involved the hijacking of four commercial passenger planes by the terrorist group al-Qaida, resulting in the deaths of 2,996 Americans and $10 billion worth of damages to infrastructure, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.
It was the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941 and instantly had a prominent effect on American life. An immediate call for action resulted in the invasion of two Middle Eastern countries, Afghanistan in October 2001 and Iraq in March 2003.
Both occupations cost thousands of American military lives and trillions of dollars; creating a generation of servicemen and women impacted by the fallout of 9/11.
Sean Scharf, a Marine Corps veteran and mechanical engineering student at SF State, was only a year into his enlistment with the Marines and training for his first deployment when the attacks hit.
“I joined when technically the United States was in no conflict at the time, and [9/11] was such a major event, and it shifted our unit’s entire focus on different types of training,” said Scharf. “My unit was training in the desert at the time, we were cut off, they didn’t know what was happening until our commanders brought in a video showing us what was happening… We thought it was a lie just to get more training out of us.”
The reality of the situation would soon become all too real for Scharf who was present for the invasion of Iraq, where he lost a member of his unit. He returned a couple years later for a second deployment.
“A lot of where I am today, as far as a veteran and as far as a student, is effected by the events of 9/11,” said Scharf.