September 11, 2001.
I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade. It was a regular Tuesday morning and I had just finished first block-- PE, which I wasn't too fond of because of my nasty classmates being sweaty and stinky the rest of the day. We were standing in front of the junior high building, buying our snacks from the machines. I remember my 8th grade cousin Angela running over to my little circle of four friends and telling us that the World Trade Towers had been hit.
I didn't even know what she was talking about. What were the World Trade Towers? Where were they? Angela said they were how we controlled our trading with other countries, that now we wouldn't be able to have gas for our cars and something about imports and exports. I was somewhat ashamed inside for not having a clue about the things she was talking about and wishing I did so I'd be a more informed and concerned citizen. At the same time, I envisioned us living without electricity and going back to a much simpler way of life. I wasn't worried in the least about what my new life would be like because I knew my good ol' farm boy country daddy would take care of our family. I knew I was safe way down here in Alabama, terrorists would never find us down here. So what if we didn't have gas or electricity? We'd have food and maybe I wouldn't have to go to school.
When the bell rang and second block began, our science teacher seemed pretty upset by the news and kept the TV on the whole class period. We watched the news the whole day in all our classes and learned about attacks on the Pentagon and the brave Americans who fought the terrorists in an airplane over Pennsylvania. Footage of the airplanes hitting the buildings played over and over again everyday for weeks on the TV until I grew sick of it and wished everyone would just shut up and move on and forget about it. We heard stories about angels holding the doors to stairwells open so people could escape and I wondered if they were true.
I didn't know anyone who had died in the terrorism attacks and my world didn't change at all other than "9-11" and "September 11" becoming permanent phrases in everyone's speech. Toby Keith's and Alan Jackson's songs played at least once an hour on every station it seemed like. American flags took on new significance to me and I saw an explosion of American pride in everyone's lives--flags on lawns and houses, stickers on cars, even t-shirts with flags. Osama Bin Laden became public enemy number one and we waited years for him to be caught. When his actual demise finally came, I felt somewhat relieved that justice had been served. But has it really?
I'm 22 now and this September 11, ten years after the attacks, I'm remembering the day by reading the newspaper articles about remembrances around the country today, watching the images I first saw ten years ago again, and watching new images of people visiting the memorials dedicated to the thousands of people who lost their lives that day. The past nine September 11's were basically just another day because every day since September 11, 2001 has been a day of remembrance. I've thought about September 11 everyday in some form since then. There's something in the newspaper or on the news about terrorists or new regulations in airports because of the attacks everyday. We can't forget. Our lives are permanently changed in someway forever.
Despite its problems, America is still the greatest country in the world and I thank God that it's mine.
(A special thank you to my Canadian blogfriends who are remembering with us on this day.)