Every year, I think back to that day. September 11, 2001. I was a senior in high school, happily oblivious to the cares of the world. Walking out of AP English to go to second period, I hear NL yelling "Planes crashed into the World Trade Center." All I could think was that it was a sick joke, because it could never really happen. Went to my locker to get my government book, walked into Mrs. Begley's classroom... to see everything that NL had said was true. That's why his voice had a tremor, why he sounded slightly terrified. We sat there in silence - there was nothing to say.
We saw the second plane hit, and we all became terrified. Although not all of in there were friends, we grabbed the hand of whoever was next to us, just to know someone was there. We changed classes at the bells, watching, waiting. I found out that the parents of some friends were supposed to be coming back to the US that day - thankfully, they made a call from overseas to state that they were ok, just not able to come home. It would be 3 days before flights resumed and they could return to their children.
I remember sitting on the couch that night, curled up next to my Daddy, watching President Bush's remarks on TV. Even next to my dad, I was scared. If they could that, was there anywhere that was safe? Even though we are relatively safe in the "country" we were close enough to Cincinnati that a nuclear or biological attack would effect us. No matter what happened, my eyes had been open. No longer could I be oblivious to world politics - they were too real now. While I may not choose a political party, I know that what happens overseas and here at home will dictate things that happen in my life.
My parents were supposed to fly to Vegas that weekend, leaving me and my 10 year old brother behind. I was almost 18, and perfectly capable of watching him for a 4 day weekend. My mom broke down the next day though, knowing there was no way she could risk getting on a plane and leaving her babies at home alone. It was confirmed that their trip would be delayed when my brother came home from school crying, begging them not to go in a plane that would crash. They took that trip months later - my dad made sure that I knew where their wills were kept, etc, just in case. It has stuck with me 9 years later. While I never would have asked them to cancel their trip, I was thankful that they postponed. I would have worried every second they were in the air.
9 years later, I have not forgotten where I was, what I was doing, and how it impacted my life. I can't hear "God Bless America" without tears coming to my eye - we quickly learned it to play before a moment of silence at the football game Friday night. Same thing for the National Anthem, when it's done well. I've always been patriotic and supportive of our troops. Now that my brother is in ROTC for the Navy, I'm even more so. I only hope that when my children ask me where I was that day, I can answer them without bursting into tears. It defined how the rest of my senior year went - I think it defined my class as a whole. When we graduated, two events stood out - 9/11, and the loss of a classmate. One was tragedy on a huge scale, one close to home. Both were events that defined us a class, brought us together, but strengthened our resolve to live our lives fully, give to others, and help those around us.
I will never forget.