Ten. Ten years-old. That was the age that I had to learn about the horrid side of human nature.
It started out like any other school day in our quiet, suburban Kansas neighborhood. I walked to Hilary’s house down the block at about 8:15 a.m. Central Time. Our parents took turns with carpool and it happened to be the Robinson’s turn that week. I walked up the stairs to her father Greg’s office, where we usually waited for him. The TV was on and Greg was watching the news. For some odd reason the reporter kept playing footage of a plane running in to the side of a building. Me and Hilary scoffed at each other, “That pilot is so dumb. Who flies into a building?” Greg said nothing about it to us and finally took us to school. All of the kids in class kept talking about this mysterious plane crash and how dumb the pilot was. We had art class first thing in the morning, so we got up and walked to Mrs. Hutchinson’s art room. It was there that I finally heard the words out of one of my classmates mouths, “terrorist attack.” I wasn’t sure of their true meaning and laughed it off as something Jordan was just making up. But then I noticed the adults starting to act strange. Mrs. Hutchison, who is normally your stereotypical quirky art teacher, sat at her desk and said very little to us. She was clutching a small, old radio that’s volume was turned so low that none of us students could hear it’s message. She was so quiet, so somber and upset, I knew something had to be terribly wrong. Another adult came in and whispered something in her ear and then quickly left. We finished art class and walked back to our classroom. That’s when they told us. Mrs. Pentecost explained what had happened, that we didn’t know who was responsible or why we were attacked. Some children cried and were in fear for their safety, the rest of us sat frozen. Our minds weren’t yet capable of processing that kind of tragedy. In the coming days, those images played over and over and over again. I had to hear about all the lives that were lost, about the horrible men who caused this, and about the dangers we now faced as a nation. Slowly, I had to come to terms with what had happened.
I didn’t know it that day, but that is the most vivid memory I have of my childhood, ironically, it’s also when I lost a very important part of my childhood. This isn’t something children should have to experience, it shouldn’t become something that we are burdened to carry around with us, in our hearts and minds, every day. Men shouldn’t walk around with so much hate in their heart that they plot, plan, and execute an attack that kills almost 3,000 people. But these are actualizations that we are faced with now. I can’t remember a time when our nation wasn’t at war or at conflict with some group or country. I can’t remember a time our country was at peace. They stripped away the innocence of my childhood and that is something that I will never get back.