I didn’t lose anyone that day. I didn’t even know anyone in New York. It might not have been as devastating or as heart wrenching as losing a loved one, but we all lost a part of us that day regardless of where we were standing.
I remember that September morning like it happened just a few days ago. I was 10 years old only a couple of days away from my 11th birthday. We were late to school that morning so we didn’t get to watch T.V. while eating breakfast like we did most days. My mom was in a rush to get us out of the house and to school on time.
My brother and I went to different schools, he was in high school and I was in elementary, a new 6th grader. We had to leave no later then 7am every morning because we both had to be in class by 7:45. It took me a while to realize it, but I noticed there was no music on the radio after we got in the car and left the house that morning.
My mother and brother were also strangely silent the entire way while we listened to the news reports. There was no ‘morning show banter’ like we usually heard in the mornings. They talked about airplanes that were ‘hijacked’ and possible ‘terrorists.’ Words I don’t ever recall hearing in my life up until that point. I didn’t understand what was going on.
We dropped my brother off at school and I noticed my mother was more incessant that day when she told him to be careful at school. On the way over to my school I tried asking my mom what was going on, but she couldn’t seem to tell me. I thought at the time that she was probably just as confused as I was, but now that I look back I think she was just at a loss, she didn’t know how to tell me what was going on, that there was a possibility that thousands had just lost their lives.
We were nearing my school when the radio announcer exclaimed “Its falling! The second tower is falling! The towers are gone!” It was around 7:30 at this point in california… it was 10:30 in New York.
I arrived at school just minutes after that, my teacher had the tv’s on when i got into class. For the first hour of the day we watched as the planes hit, and as the towers fell, as people ran and the news casters held back tears over and over. As we saw a clip play of the first plane hitting the tower, I realized I had just watch hundreds of people die with that impact.
After that we had an unscheduled class lesson. Not only did my teacher find herself responsible for telling a group of 10 and 11 year old kids about islam and the muslim culture, but also about how a small group of this culture was probably responsible for all these deaths. While nothing was certain at the time it was the only other explanation we were given. We learned that this group didn’t represent the entire culture but there was enough of them to cause all this pain.
I learned about hate that day, that it really existed. That there were people in the world who disliked us. As a little 10 year old girl, it was crushing. I couldn’t understand why someone would hate us, why someone would do this to us. How killing so many people could ever be justified.
I didn’t think that these kind of things really happened, this was supposed to be reserved for movies and wars that were now long past and in history books. Me and those kids in that class, and in classrooms all around the country, were all forced to grow up more then we should have that day. We learned the cruelties of the world before we were ready, and with such violent force. I remember everyone being so afraid for months afterwards. No one wanted to leave their homes for long, and I made my mom cancel my 11th birthday party.
But what I remember the most, were the days afterwards. Seeing all the volunteers helping, all the people traveling across country to lend a hand. The people gathering at ground zero to help any way that they could. Helping rescuers, giving them aid and food when they needed a break from their harried searching. The way the country came together is what stays with me the most. I still have a small photograph I got at my school library of the lights, the beacons shining forever into the sky where the towers proudly stood, filling the void. I’ll never forget. We’ll never forget that day.