I was six years old when the September 11, 2001 attacks happened.
I remember getting dressed for school in my room, hearing the phone ring, and shortly after, hearing my mom’s wail as she learned from my sister-in-law what was happening. I came running out of my room to see the World Trade Center billowing smoke, and tears streaming down my mother’s face.
At first I didn’t understand, but when they showed the Pentagon ablaze, I remembered my brother was there. I remember feeling numb and confused. It was extremely difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that my brother, an Air Force soldier, was somewhere in that building, his inconsolable wife on the phone.
My mom drove me to school late that day. It was hard for her to pull herself away from the television, sure that she would see her son among the casualties. She didn’t have a cell phone, so she was silently scared, and so was I. I didn’t truly grasp what was happening.
At school we kept the televisions off, but I remember we all prayed in a circle. To this day I cannot remember what was said, but I remember the teachers crying and holding each other.
When I was fourteen, I visited the same brother who had been in the Pentagon that day. The room he was supposed to be in at the time of the attack was one of the ones that was hit. However, shortly before the attack, his commander directed him and the rest of the soldiers with him into another room.
Minutes after the plane hit the Pentagon, he was ordered to lay low outside the Pentagon, but shoot whoever came near. His commander told him to “shoot first, ask questions later.” My brother started shaking when he told me this part of the story. He’d never been in a position where he knew he would have to directly kill someone.
It was days before he could get in touch with his family and let us know he was okay. But to this day I know I’m blessed to have my brother with me. My heart and prayers go out to families of those who fell that day. I know we will see them again.