I had a history teacher who once said "Each and every day, you are a part of history. You are living it, witnessing it, creating it. There will come a day when a child will ask you about some event that happened in your lifetime and they will be riveted by the story you tell. So pay attention and remember..."
This is my 9/11 story...
I was in ninth grade. I had gone to school early that day, for whatever reason. Our school had televisions posted every fifty or so feet on the walls in the hallways that played the morning news every day. I noticed groups of kids crowding around them, so I went to see what the fuss was about. An airplane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade center. We were so confused...what had happened? And how? And why?? We all watched as a second plane crashed into the South Tower. Live. Right before our eyes. My stomach sank as I realized these crashes were not accidents. They were not coincidences. I felt sick. And heavy. We were all horrified.
Everyone was glued to the televisions throughout the school. The morning bells rang and we hurried into our classrooms to find our teachers watching the news as well. The principal's voice broke over the intercom delivering the terrible, gut wrenching news. There was a long moment of silence and then our teachers were instructed to carry on as usual. That didn't happen. The school was especially quiet that day. Everyone hurried through the halls between classes so they could get to their next one and continue watching the news. More parents than usual came to personally pick up their children from school that day, and I imagine everyone rushed home to turn on the news. We were all praying and looking for the same things: Hope. Survivors. Suspects. Justice.
My mom didn't make us go to school the next day. We stayed home in our pajamas and watched brave men and women rescue survivors. We also saw the death toll steadily rise. We wept. We were angry. And then we cried some more.
I decided to dig up my old journal and find the entry from 9/11. So here, for accuracy's sake, are parts of that entry that describe my thoughts and feelings from that day [I've removed some redundant parts and you'll have to forgive some inevitable inaccuracies, naivety, and immaturity--I've copied the entry exactly as it was written]:
Newspaper headlines around the U.S. and possibly the world all read the same thing: "America Under Attack." Around 7:00 am Utah (Mountain) time, a commercial jet with 90 passengers was hijacked and crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center. Twenty minutes later, another plane was hijacked that contained 65 passengers and was crashed into the South tower. Twenty minutes after that, yet another plane was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. That plane (I believe) had about 45 passengers. The same thing happened to another plane containing 55 passengers only it didn't crash into a building. School today was not a typical school day....we sat and watched these horrific events unfold one after another. In third period, we all sat glued to the t.v. and watched the Twin Towers (W.T.C.) collapse. .... We do not yet know who is responsible for these terrorist attacks, but President Bush claims that "...we will hunt them down..." and they will be sorry. .... How could something like this happen? .... I was watching the news and they showed footage of people in Palestine rejoicing and dancing in the streets. They're celebrating the loss of thousands of innocent American lives. They were saying things like "They deserve it!" and "I only wish it were more. I wish it were worse." It makes me sick. How could they do something like this? How could they say things like that? .... This is so devastating. Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about it today in the conference center and the tabernacle choir did a memorial program.... It makes me sad that people could be so evil and have so much hatred in their hearts. I'm angry that so many innocent people lost their lives. Think about it - husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, children, grandparents - were all lost today. Thousands of them. And Palestinians are celebrating in the streets about it. .... People are comparing this to the attack on Pearl Harbor - only this is much worse. I don't know what to think....
Here we are, ten years later. In some ways, it still seems so fresh. I still get choked-up at images of policemen, firefighters, military personnel, and every day citizens working through the rubble trying to find survivors. I get tears in my eyes when I see photos and clips of people in New York city covered in ash and debris looking toward the Twin Towers, crying. Who did they know? What must they be thinking right at that moment?
Visiting New York City is on my bucket list. And you can bet every penny you've got that I won't leave until I've visited Ground Zero...
What will you be doing today? I'll be watching this: