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Today, social media has seen a different side of opinions and words. From posts that usually consist of personal issues and whereabouts, many have taken the time to post about their experience and feelings towards the September 11th event. From recollections of the classroom one was sitting in or the people they were in company with, clear memories were expressed through the media.

These memories have been with these people for 11 years. Young or old, memory holders have a script in their head of how they perceived the confusion, panic, and distraught of the tragic day.

Personally, I remember sitting in my 4th grade homeroom class with Mr. Miller*. I was sitting in the middle of the sunray-formatted seating arrangement. It was still pretty early in the day and there was sun climbing through the windows of our classroom.

It was always a big event when someone was called down to the office using the announcement system. The first person that was called down was directed to bring their belongings for an early dismissal. “Early dismissal” was the best two words a kid could hear this early in the day other than “free time”. But there wasn’t just one student, but multiple. There were now crowds of children being fed through the exit of the fourth grade area, with guidance of an adult.

I was so confused. I’m a natural worrier and this was just making all borders of my child mind expand and distort itself. There were amateur whispers of a gunman roaming around the nearby but very well-lit woody area that only ranged 30 feet in width. There were other random rumors of the cause that I could not comprehend. All of the adults were lined up on the sidewalk that connected the outdoor exits of the K-5th grades. I followed the mass crowd, terrified, but more confused. I could not quite comprehend what was going on or what to be afraid of.

The rest of the day is a blur. Whether I never sat down to draw out the exact sequence or my memory repressed it, it still brings about small anxious feelings throughout my head. I remember getting home, but I do not remember if my parents were home already. They might have arrived shortly after. But days like today when I get to remember the tragic event, I feel both thankful and devastated. My parents work in Washington D.C. Just as every morning, they would send me off to school and then depart their way into the bustling city. My father was actually supposed to be very close to the White House on the day of the attacks. I was too young to really wrap my head around the motives and reasons behind the attacks, but I was grateful that my father was then still standing at the same time. But I know that this isn’t the case for everyone. One girl I met in my life has told a group of us that her mother was to board one of the planes that crashed into the towers. Others, as I have seen postings today, reported more tragic stories of how their loved ones had lost their lives on that day.

I am very grateful that my parents are still with me today, but at the same time, I feel very selfish. While thoughts of the September 11th event cross my mind a couple dozen times a year, there are people who have relived that day ever since its occurrence. September 11th may be the official date of the passing of a loved on, but what is an official date when there are 364 other days of once-present person that’s presence is thinner than air now?

In a holistic sense, there are people who relive tragedies everyday. Aside from September 11th, there are numerous stories of recollections of drunk driving accidents, undefeated diseases, or natural patterns of death. Regardless of the reason, we all miss the people that made us who we were when we were around them. Death is never an event to be celebrated. It’s painful, but I believe each loss experienced molds a person more than almost any other event. Grieving, though, should be paired with gratefulness. Without each person I have lost, I certainly wouldn’t have become the person I am today. My time with each has not only made great memories, but it also brought me a new realization at my loss of their presence. I feared that my memory would reach a capacity and I would lose the space that stored these times with my loved ones. But they ring in my mind crystal clear. Events from spending time with my grandmother to hearing a friend joke around as if there was no tomorrow, these are the things I cherish more than anything.

There is only so much I can do to pay my tribute to my passed loved ones. But waking everyday and changing my actions to be a better person is how I choose to keep these people alive in my life. They taught me morals and that kindness and perseverance in all situations is a gift. Regardless of the actions I choose to take, I know that they want me to act in a way that benefits both myself and those around me. To me, my loved ones never passed. If they were forgotten traces of thoughts that have been gathering dust, then sure, they can be considered as “passed away”. But these people to me are still thriving in life vicariously through me. I try to choose to rejoice rather than weep of my “loses”. Of course, it is a struggle but going forward in life is a struggle. Taking them with me makes it easier to make decisions and state the person I am today. I have learned tremendously from the ones I have seen pass and from those who still walk with me today. I can only hope that the person I am presenting to society is one that my loved ones are proud to call their own “loved ones”.

Prayers and remembrance are given to those who have lost their lives on this date. Your act of braveness has made a mark on the history of the country.

*name has been changed 

Photo Credit: Bargain Hunting with Laurie

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