Archive for September, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today
September 11, 2011

I was eleven years old, and at around 9 am on September 11,2001, I was on my way to Mrs. Luli’s sixth grade advanced math class. Math wasn’t my favorite subject, but Mrs. Luli was one of my favorite teachers, mainly because she had a tendency to mix my name up with my best friend’s. She apologized for her mistake with a piece of Baskin Robbins candy for each of us.

A small group of us entered the dark classroom. The lights were off and Mrs. Luli was nowhere to be found. I set my Trapper Keeper (that’s right) onto my desk and began chatting with my friends when Mrs. Luli entered the classroom. She seemed upset and gathered the handful of students in the room into a circle.

“Something terrible has happened,” she said. “If you feel comfortable, please pray for our country.”

Without knowing what was going on, I bowed my head and said a quick prayer. Knowing my naive self, my conversation with God was probably something along the lines of, “I don’t really know what’s going on, but make sure everything is ok. Also, if that cute boy from Social Studies wanted to sit next to me today, that would be great.”

I don’t remember much from the rest of the school day, except for the rumors. We didn’t watch the footage in class, but a few teachers would catch glimpses of the disaster in between classes. Eventually, kids started talking. A plane hit the White House, the Statue of Liberty, etc. I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was. I had never heard of it and once one of the teachers confirmed that the Twin Towers had been the actual target, I stopped worrying about the incident and put full focus on my dad.

My dad was in the air that day. I don’t remember where he was headed but I do recall thinking it was a good thing that I had not been one of the kids whose parents came and got them in the middle of the school day. If my mom had showed up to get me, then surely my dad’s plane had been involved in whatever was happening in New York City. No news was good news.

When I made it home that afternoon, my mom was watching the news. I walked in our garage door to see the towers smoldering and falling on repeat on my television screen. I started asking questions, but at eleven years old, I didn’t understand the severity of the answers. I didn’t understand that thousands of people had just lost their lives in the name of hatred and terrorism. I didn’t understand that this day wouldn’t end when I went to sleep, that this day would haunt my generation and the world population forever. All I understood was that my dad was safely on his way back home and that, oh yeah, I had a sewing project due tomorrow in home ec so could we please go to JoAnn Fabrics so I could pick up some supplies?

My mom was not happy.

The line at every gas station we passed on the way to JoAnn’s had left cars spilling out into the streets. We listened to am radio on the drive, which my mom never does, in order to get more information. And even at the fabric store, my mom left me to wander the aisles and find what I needed while she stayed glued to the television screen along with the store’s employees. I just didn’t get it.

It took me a long time after that day to understand what had happened. Instead of being concerned about why we were sending so many people off to war, I was determined to find an I ♥ NY t shirt somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio.

Despite not fully understanding the source of our nation’s despair, I was inspired by the patriotism I saw around me. I was proud to be an American. I did not yet realize that there was once a time when we did not live in fear of attacks on our soil. That planes had once been a method of transportation and not an opportunity for chaos and unthinkable tragedy. That mysterious packages or white powder had not always meant danger.

I do not have a conscious idea of what the safety of our world was like before 9/11. But, like so many other people on this day, I am proud as hell to be an American. We suffered an incredible tragedy that personally affected the lives of thousands and changed the way the world saw our unshakable fortress of freedom. Ten years ago today, the nation came together to mourn the loss of thousands of our fellow citizens. To this day, it is that banding together of people that creates a foundation of brotherhood and keeps this country the home of the brave.