I don’t remember waking up that day. The first thing I remember from 9/11/2001 is hearing my mom gasp from the TV room before she called my brother and me in from the kitchen. Confused, we gathered around the TV to watch as an airplane crashed into a skyscraper in New York City. I remember thinking, in my 8-year-old head, “What’s going on? Why did that plane hit a building?” I soon understood from the shock and sadness on my parents’ faces that I was witnessing a national tragedy.
I was late for the bus. So were about half the other kids in my 3rd grade class. At the time we lived in Spokane, Washington, so about as far removed from NYC you can be short of leaving the lower 48. But sitting in my classroom that Tuesday morning, I realized that our entire country would be affected by the attacks, not just those who lost loved ones.
The gravity of the situation sunk in further the next week when a girl in my class learned that her cousin’s best friend had been killed. She was in the North Tower with her mother. That connection, however remote, to someone killed in the attacks forced me to think more deeply into the situation. One of the most persistent questions in my mind has been, how many of those innocent people saw it coming? Did they know their lives were about to end? I don’t think I’ll ever know.
But I’ll certainly never forget September 11th, 2001.