On September 11th, 2001, I was an eight year old girl just starting Grade 3 in a small-town school in Canada.
I can clearly remember how things looked when I got on the school bus that morning. The sky was perfectly blue, the rising sun was shining bright yellow, and the leaves on the trees were starting to show hints of changing colour. School started at 9:00am, around the same time when it was all happening. Looking back, I do think that there was a different sort of feeling among the teachers that day, but I remained oblivious to what had happened until long after I had come home.
It was around that time that our family had gotten its first computer, which was quite a novelty for me, so my parents had me spend some time playing computer games in another room so that I wouldn’t have to see what was on the news. It wasn’t until it had gotten dark that they decided to tell me that something terrible had happened in New York, that planes had been crashed into buildings on purpose and that a lot of people had died. I remember that I got scared and started to cry. My mom had been to New York on vacation once, I knew that New York wasn’t all that far away from us, even in Canada. I got scared that the bad people would come here to kill my family too. While I was crying, my dad gave me something to open and play with, a wiggle writer – a pen that would vibrate and make silly squiggles while writing. My crying turned to giggling as I used it for the first time, and just as my parents had hoped, that strange pen cheered me up and distracted me from feeling scared for the rest of the night.
The next morning at school, I remember our principal announcing on the PA system that he hoped for each kid to give at least one loonie (a dollar) to help the survivors of the September 11th Attacks, and that there would be volunteers going from class to class to collect them for the next few days. My parents gave me a shiny loonie the next morning to give away, and I made sure to hold onto it tightly until the volunteers came to my Grade 3 classroom that had yellow walls. The fishbowl that was held out to me already had lots of coins in them, and as I put my own loonie in with them, I wondered who in New York might receive it, and hoped that it would help them in some small way. I still hope it did.