Sunday, September 11, 2011

That Day

I was in tenth grade. I walked into History class early, because my previous class was right next door. The teacher had the TV on, and after see the smoke and the buildings I thought it was part of the days lesson.

Until the teacher told me, no, this is happening right now. This is New York City. We sat and watched the entire period as the two towers fell. As we tried to make sense of what was happening. People with family in New York City left to call their parents; I felt guilty and relieved that my extended family lived two hours away. They were safe.

A lot of other people were not. 

We went to our next class. The TV was on, even though the principal officially said the TVs were supposed to be off, he didn't want to scare the children. We thought it was stupid; we were already scared, more scared than we had been in our lives.

People talked in clumps in the hallway. It was hard to really finish a thought or sentence. As the day wore on, we tried to think of other things. But it always came back to those two towers crumbling before our eyes.

I went to work after school, even though I didn't want to be there. I didn't know where I wanted to be; I felt numb, but I didn't want to be waiting on people. We were slow that night. I guess most people didn't want to leave their families. 

The entire day was like someone close and personal to every single one of us had died. It wasn't just the borrowed grief of the families who lost someone in the attack.

That day, we all had a loved one who died.

Our sense of security. Our innocence. Americans get a lot of grief for it, but there's no denying that we're raised to think we're the best. We're America; we kick ass and take names. We're invincible. We're going to live forever.

We found out otherwise on that day. 

Thank you for listening to my thoughts. I was luckier than some; I lost no one close to me. But that day I grieved with everyone as a sister. The people who lost someone, who gave up their lives so others could live, they are forever in my heart and mind.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, am fortunate enough to have all my friends and family safe. I heard about it a bit after it happened, in the car on the radio. My husband and I had been in a meeting with the principal of the school our son attended - she was also his math teacher, and we were discussing his math. My first thought was of a friend who worked somewhere in Manhattan, but I didn't know just where. I was really glad when I finally, the next day, got a hold of her.

    I also remember that my cousin was getting married a bit over a week later. In NJ. I had a flight scheduled to Newark. The airline I was booked on went out of business then, so I had the option of getting a refund, or rebooking with someone else. At the time, Newark was still closed, and I worried that even if the flight was delayed half a day, I wouldn't make it to the wedding, so I cancelled. (I wasn't afraid to fly - I figured it was probably the safest time in my life to fly! Just figured, the time was too short, and the risk of not making the wedding anyway was too high.)

    Now, ten years later, it isn't surprising that we in America are vividly remembering that day. But I was rather astonished when a friend who lives in NZ said they were having memorial services. I had no idea that other countries were going to mark this, too. She said that everyone was shocked, and although she doesn't know what it felt like to be an American that day, she did know what it felt like to be a part of humanity.

    I find it comforting to know we still have people around the world who remember and care.