It's Sept 11, 2013. Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Many people remember exactly what they were doing at the moment they heard what had happened. Do you?
I do. I remember it just like it was yesterday. Even though I was a child, I understood that what I was watching on TV was going to be a turning point in the way that we lived.
It's 7:50 a.m Central Time on Sept. 11, 2001. Normally by now my parents would have woken me up so that I could get ready for my 3rd grade class. But this morning was different. I wasn't awoken by an alarm clock, or my dad gently waking me up, I was awoken by a sound that no young child wants to hear: his mother crying.
Instantly my heart sank. I climbed down from my loft bed and ran into the living room where the crying was coming from and found my mom standing in the middle of room, her eyes fixed on the television screen. She didn't respond to my many questions as to why she was crying. All she kept saying was, "Oh my God...Oh my God...".
As a third grader, all I saw on the TV screen was a building that I had never seen before burning really high up. I couldn't understand why my mom would be so emotional over a burning building. My dad was a volunteer fireman at the time so my family had seen its fair share of fire. What made this building so different?
Finally my mom answered my questions. She told me the "PG" version: "A plane ran into a big building in New York City, and a lot of people got hurt." Now I understood why she was crying. I knew my mom was a very caring woman, and she was probably crying because of the people who had been "hurt", but another reason for her tears was closing in fast.
8:03 a.m Central Time. Mom and I are watching Matt Lauer and Katie Couric talk with witnesses of the first plane on NBC. My mom's sobs have calmed down and become more far apart. All of a sudden, an explosion was heard, and the camera panned out to show the second tower had an explosion.
Again, as a third grader (even now as a college student), there's some things that are terrifying and hearing your mother scream and burst into uncontrollable crying is very high on that list. But this time she wasn't the only one crying. I was old enough to understand that this wasn't the same tower, and that this couldn't have been an accident. Unfortunately, NBC was on a close-up of the first fire when the second plane hit, and they took a minute to actually show a plane causing the explosion. When they showed the plane, my mom grabbed me, held me close, and we cried.
Then it hit me. My dad had been in Atlanta on training for his new job for three weeks, and was due back later in the week. I had know idea if my dad was ok or not. I started bawling my eyes out even more thinking that my dad could be in trouble. Thankfully, my mom informed me that he was perfectly safe.
The rest of the day is just one big blur. I remember seeing that two more planes had crashed. I remember announcements over our elementary school intercoms telling teachers to turn their TVs off, and that they would be notified if any changes would be made to our schedule. I remember that the school was unusually quiet. That day was a horrifying day, and will be forever in our memories.
It's 1:09 a.m Central Time on Sept. 11, 2013. I'm sitting on my couch writing this post, and I feel like a third grader again. I am staring at news coverage from that day, tears are streaming down my face, and my cat is keeping his distance. The only difference is that now I know how it ends.
I know that 2,996 people died in the attacks. 344 of them were firefighters, 61 were police officers, and 2 paramedics.
I know that many New Yorkers now have psychological problems due to events of that day.
I know that the America has never been the same.
But, I also know that for that day and for days after, we stood as one. We stood as one nation, under God, seeking each other for comfort. Religions, races, and political views didn't matter when it came to the person next to you. We were one.
To the families and friends of victims, citizens of New York, and to those directly affected by these events, prayers are being sent your way.
As you go about your day, keep these people in your mind. Let's become one again. Let's show our support for these families.