Today is a powerful day in the heart of many Americans. Many people lost friends and family on this day 10 years ago. Though I did not know anyone who lost their lives on that day, it affects me tremedously.
We all have our story of that day, this is mine.
I was a junior in high school in second period with Mr. North who taught US History. Little did I know that, on that day, I would be seeing US history unfold before my eyes. I do not remember what I was wearing, or who I was sitting next to in class, but I remember how I felt. The first tower was hit before we got to class, the news was already on when we took our seats. It took me a while before I could comprehend what was happening. I honestly thought it was a movie…I mean, we were in US history class after all. It was something like Independence Day, I just didn’t believe it was real. The US does not get attacked. Yes, I know about Pearl Harbor and how seemingly out of the blue that seemed too.
I thought we had more control, naively I thought we couldn’t be harmed here. I had wondered before about wars and how they don’t typically happen here anymore. Then I focused on what was happening. He would leave it on but turn the volume down…then the second plane hit. We listened for a while and he turned it down. Then the tower fell…we didn’t let him turn it down again. We were glued. It was so quiet.
I believe it was just before 3rd period when the plane it the Pentagon. That was just too close for comfort. My grandmother and uncle live very close to there. And how many more planes were there?? Also, we all knew we had friends who had parents that commuted to DC for work, some in the Pentagon.
In 3rd period, the teacher would not let us watch so that those whose parents might be there did not worry. I don’t know how that works. Yeah, let’s not be informed.
People were leaving. I called my dad so he could check on my grandmother. We called my uncle later too. It was such a mess of concern, sadness, and terror.
The days after was when we learned a whole lot more about what happened. People jumped off the towers, thousands were killed or missing, people were working day and night sifting through the rubble. Volunteers from my area were going up to help with the search efforts. Many, many people had no idea if their loved ones were alive, missing, or just caught in the mess of clean up.
In college, we had the wife of a victim of Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania supposedly headed for the White House speak on the 5th anniversary. She was able to speak to her husband on that flight and learned of their plan. It was such a touching story of heroes who wanted to do something because they knew they were on a suicide flight.
The lives lost on that day are so tragic. I can’t imagine the fear that goes through your mind when your building is filling with fuel and smoke. Or being on a hijacked plane knowing you will die. Then you have the people that didn’t go to work for some reason that day, and they feel they should have died and have survivors remorse. And now we have the first responders and rescue workers who are dying from the dust they inhaled while working feverishly for days trying to find and save people. The families of the victims still trying to make sense of it all. So many people affected from this horrible day…I almost feel like I have no right to be sad. I could never understand the pain these people are in. But I am. I am deeply saddened about the loss of innocent lives. And I’m encouraged by the mass of people who wanted to help in some way.
I am proud. So proud of the people who went to NYC to help find the survivors and the lost. Proud of the first responders who, in the line of duty, did not care about themselves, only about getting people safe. Proud of every public services officer who has no idea what that day will bring. Thank you all for giving everything you had. And I am so sorry for the losses you have seen. I hope you never experience that again.
I will continue to cry on this day, possibly for the rest of my life. I will continue to remember those lost, those protecting us here and abroad, and how sometimes, this country can rise above everything and embrace our nation.