Sitting at my desk surrounded by my fellow third graders, there was nothing I was more concerned about on the morning of Sept. 11 than finishing my math assignment. When my teacher got called out of the classroom by another teacher, neither I nor my classmates thought anything of it. Within minutes, she ran back in and turned on the television. She stood in front of it as if she were paralyzed, with tears streaming down her face and only moving to slowly shake her head. Being only in the third grade, my classmates and I weren’t completely sure what was going on; all we knew was that something was very, very wrong. The rest of the day was a blur, with our teacher and principal trying to explain to us that our nation had been attacked. When I got home from school, my mom was sitting in front of the TV watching the terrible clips of the planes crashing on every channel. Still not quite understanding what was going on, I sat next to my mom and watched the news, horrified and confused by what I was seeing. On September 11, 2001, I didn’t realize that I was witnessing a historical tragedy that would change our nation forever.
September 11, 2001 was the first event in my lifetime that will go down in history books for the rest of time. In 2001 I was in the third grade, around the age of eight or nine and I had only seen burning buildings in action movies. I remember sitting in class and my teacher become very anxious and emotional as she moved the classroom TV to the front of the room and flipped to whatever news channel came up first. The room filled with silence and the next thing I can recall is sitting at home looking through a peephole on my stairs as my parents re-watched the trauma of the terrorism attack. My mom was crying and I didn’t know whether or not I was allowed to look or if at anytime someone would clue in the kids about what was happening and why. I remember ash, I remember the wind, I remember the glass, and the images of people throwing themselves off of the World Trade Center before it completely collapsed. I remember the ruble, and I remember the symbolic placing of the American flag. I was blessed enough to not have any family in New York but little did I know it would affect my life in a vast way ten years later. My best friend joined the army right out of high school, and during my senior year of high school he was stationed in Afghanistan, fighting for our country honorably while also working to rebuild a very broken place. His absence impacted my world, and left me to consider and analyze everything that led so many soldiers to the Middle East. I respected his decision and desire to make a difference concerning the event that has constructed the country that we live in today, but I wish that September 11th ten years ago would have gone very differently to ensure the safety of so many men and women who have risked their lives for my safety.
On September 11, 2001, I was ten years old and in the fifth grade at Avon Intermediate School. My class was returning to school after an overnight field trip when our bus driver suddenly pulled over about an hour or so from home. After we had stopped, my teacher stood up and tried to explain what had happened in calm words that her young students could understand. Still, the worry and fear in her eyes was obvious to me, even as a child. I did not quite understand the seriousness of the situation, but something about the solemn, silent atmosphere the followed us the rest of the way home made me want to cry, ask questions, and hug my family. While other memories of this part of my childhood have faded, it seems that I will always remember 9/11 exactly as I saw it as a young girl–uncomfortable and terrifying.
I was eight when the twin towers went down in flames. Depending on how you look at the situation, it is fortunate and unfortunate that I don’t remember very clearly the day that it happened at 5:46am in California.
It started off as any other day. I got up and started getting ready for school, my dad was up way before my mom and I and was already out the door. We were eating breakfast when the phone rang. My mom answered and after a few moments of silence, said “no… I haven’t…,” followed by “ok I’ll go look right now”. As she walked to the living room and turned the TV on I was still lost in the oblivion of the early morning and wasn’t really paying attention. After a while of silence and the hushed sound of the TV, she eventually she came into the kitchen and told me to go back to bed because I didn’t have to go to school that day.
This is where my story becomes fuzzy. I don’t remember what I did the rest of that day, or the next day or talking to my friends about it, but that was ten years ago, so I suppose it is understandable.
Still, September 11th has defined my generation, just as JFK’s assassination did for a past generation and Pearl Harbor for another’s. Even if we don’t have some sort of immediate connection to the 9/11 attacks, it is still a part of us. It has shaped our whole lives. How our country is run, what other countries feel about our country and how we feel about our country ourselves. My hearts go out to anyone that was effected by the 9/11 attacks. Ten years ago it was a shock and aw… now it is a moment that our country will never forget.
On this day ten years ago, I was in 4th grade. It was a normal day; nothing out of the ordinary. I was too young and oblivious to notice if the teachers were whispering the news to each other. When it came time for recess, we weren’t allowed to go outside—the older kids speculated this was because it was too hot out. It wasn’t until I had gotten off the bus and walked into my house that I knew something was wrong. My parents were watching the news on TV, the volume all the way up, both standing tensely in the middle of the room. They explained it to me and I still didn’t understand. People that I didn’t know had purposely flown airplanes into buildings I had never heard of before. I suppose I only learned about the World Trade Center after it ceased to exist. The next day, my best friend and I talked about the attacks—she shared with me that when she had found out, she started to cry immediately. She was bawling right in the middle of a grocery store. When she said that, I started to feel guilty. I had not cried. I didn’t know anyone who had died; I could not fathom the size of this tragedy. I just felt empty and confused. In the years that have passed, however, I have started to come to terms with what happened. I think many of us were so young when the attacks occurred that it took a long time for us to understand the politics behind the event, the grief of those who had lost family members, and the heroics of the men and women who were first to react. And slowly over the years we saw how our country would work to become stronger and more united. Today, ten years from the attack, we can look back and see more clearly what really happened. Today, whether from the tragedy or the hope that it inspired, is the day for us to cry.