I was sitting in eighth grade homeroom when a friend of mine ran into the classroom.
“Something happened,” he said. “A plane just hit a building in New York. Turn on the TV.”
My classmates and I watched in horror as a second plane crashed into the World Trade Center—an image that would be replayed over and over throughout the day and over and over in the minds of Americans for years to come.
The rest of the day passed as somewhat of a blur. Sometime around third period, our principal instructed teachers to turn off the news and continue teaching as normally as possible.
I remember being extremely confused. Like most 13-year-old girls, my primary concerns at the time were wearing the right clothes, navigating middle school girl drama and getting my crush to like me.
I didn’t understand what a terrorist was. I couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to hurt so many innocent people, or how our government had allowed this to happen.
Within the span of a few minutes, the sense of security and naivety I had growing up in a sheltered America community was shattered. In a moment, the world for me and many of my peers became a much scarier place.
I remember the overwhelming sense of panic when, crowded around a radio during gym class, the reporter announced a plane had gone down in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn.—smack dab in Southwestern PA. The panic in the room was palpable until the reporter announced Flight 93 had crashed in Shanksville, about 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh.
More than anything, I remember a sense of heaviness. Everywhere I went, everyone around me—just a heaviness of sadness, confusion and disbelief.
As the weeks went on, however, the mood began to change. I remember watching people come together in a way I had never before seen. I read and heard stories of unbelievable courage and humanity. I developed a new sense of pride in the resilience of our country, and I felt hopeful.
I think that 13-years-old falls during a fairly formative group of years. At this point, almost half of my life has been post-9/11. It’s now hard for me to remember a time when America wasn’t at war and terrorists weren’t an ever-present threat. A vast part of my life has been shaped by the attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath. I realize that eighth graders now were 3-years-old in 2001, and probably don’t remember the attacks at all.
So, on this 10th anniversary of a day that changed all of our lives, I ask you to take a moment to remember the lives that were lost and be thankful for the people and things in your life that remain, and share your memories of Sept. 11 with us.