Note: I started this post on September 11, 2011, but am just now getting around to finishing it. The past month has been incredibly busy, to say the least.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the attack of the Twin Towers and The Pentagon. I have been listening to the radio all day, hearing services and memorials, and listening to people calling in to tell the story of where they were and what happened when they found out about the terrorist act. Here is my story.
I was a senior in high school, trying to adjust to being a new mother, and trying to get used to a new high school, which was by far 3 times larger than the school I had come from. I recall changing classes, going on my way to what we called “Gepuhl”… It was our pronuncation of GEPL–General Economics and Political Living. People were talking a lot more than usual in the halls, saying “did you hear?” at lot, and I was wondering what the gossip was all about. I walked into my class and the teacher had the TV on. On the screen was an image that seemed unreal. Two planes had just hit a skyscraper in New York City, and this was determined to be no coincidence. Black smoke billowed out of the slender structures, while reporters tried to stay calm and communicate as much information as they could get. I hate to say this, as it is incredibly crude, but I thought it was neat. Now “my” generation had a story about where we were. A moment we would remember forever, just as the “old people” had stories about where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot. I honestly didn’t realize how many people were dying. I didn’t feel as if our country were under attack. It looked like something I had seen in many movies, and my brain didn’t quite connect the dots. A girl in my class had a stepfather who worked at the pentagon. She left when the news came out regarding the plane crashing into it, and she didn’t return the next day. We all were wondering what happened with her family. As it turns out, he survived, but had major burns over the majority of his body. He was in the hospital for months. A childhood friend of mine lived near Washington, D.C., and I knew her husband worked at the pentagon. As it turns out, the airplane hit directly under his office, but thankfully, he was just fine. What to do in response of the attack was a hot topic in school discussions and on TV. Everyone seemed to be angry and unable to agree on the way to respond. I was very upset that went to war, and while I didn’t want to ignore the attack completely, I didn’t think that blowing up people on the other side of the world would help anything. The uncertainty of what our world was becoming was unsettling.
It wasn’t really until the year after the attacks that I began to realize how devastating an event it was. I was a stay at home mom, and the TV was on all day with interviews of people who were directly affected by the tragedy. Then it seemed “real” and it hit me. I felt so ashamed for thinking of it as a “neat” event, and I wondered about how much anger the victims had inside of them for losing countless loved ones. I also realized how lucky I was to have my little family with everyone safe and healthy. Sometimes we don’t realize how fortunate we are living a normal and uneventful life until something major happens. I hope nothing of this magnitude happens again, but unfortunately history seems to have a way of repeating itself. I suppose all I can do is to teach my children to have empathy, tolerance, and a desire to learn about all ways of life, and perhaps someday we will have a more peaceful planet.