I remember this day in history like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in Mrs. Richard’s 4th grade class during a reading lesson when we got the tragic news. My heart sank and stomach turned as we were informed that planes crashed into buildings in New York City and Washington, DC. I immediately thought of my mother who worked in DC at the time. Without any detailed information regarding the attacks, I was left to assume the worst.
Later we learned that the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been intentionally struck by hijacked planes. A fourth plane crash occurred in a field in Somerset County, PA after attendants tried to regain control over the hijackers and ultimately failed.
Shortly after the news surfaced, we were sent home. My mom called me and informed me she would be home soon. I was comforted by her voice and to know that she was okay but also saddened to think about friends and families who would not get that call of relief.
My eyes watched the news tirelessly as the day grew into night. My body washed over with fear and devastation as I saw the buildings light up in flames and thousands of people frantically running in panic. I thought to myself, how could someone do this to us? How could someone wake up in the morning prepared to kill themselves and thousands of other innocent people? This was unfathomable to my innocent, catholic school-girl, 9 year-old mind.
The next day was a different kind of pain. No longer was I filled with fear and adrenaline but instead mourning with the rest of America over this terrible tragedy. There is something so powerful about a large population of people coming together for a cause. The heartache was felt across the nation – no matter the skin color, the rich or the poor, the healthy or the sick – empathy was being expressed everywhere. American flags popped up left and right, patriotic symbols spray painted on lawns and “God Bless America” written on trucks. I knew we were all in this together and had faith that we would soon rise again as one nation.
I see the words “Never forget” and remembrances of the malicious attacks all over my timelines and news feeds this morning. These posts and articles bring a nostalgic feeling to me – happy that we still remember but also sad to know what this day means in history. Every person aboard the planes and nearly 3,000 others were killed that day alone. Since then, militant members have sacrificed their lives and families and friends of loved ones have had to recover from these tragic losses.
It has been 14 years since the attacks. A lot has happened within our country in those 14 years – many more intentional deaths, the recent bigotry and animosity that has been caused by race, the controversial rights of gay marriage, exploitation against the transgender presence, the media idolizing celebrities and their “problems,” and the hate crimes that continue to rise.
My point in saying that is, today is not just day in history – the events from this tragedy should be carried with us EACH and EVERYDAY. Put the politics, religion, and race aside and rejoice that we are still here and working side-by-side today as the people of the United States. Beyond the grief and pain of that day, remember the intense unity, support and pride that bled from our powerful country’s wounds. NEVER forget the lives lost that day as we stand One nation, under God.