I remember a hand full of kids being called out of class and being sent home. I remember thinking how lucky they were to be going home early, not knowing the amount of stress and horror they were going to endure over the next few hours or days waiting to find out if their loved ones were alive or dead. I was in Mr. Kelly’s 8th grade science class, 8th period if I remember correctly, when the principal came over the school’s intercom and made the announcement. I don’t think, at that very moment, that I was quite old enough to truly grasp the magnitude of those events, but it became clear to me, even at 13 years old, the horror that had unfolded when I turned on the news coverage when I got home and saw the videos of the planes hitting those towers playing on an endless cycle of repeat. I was devastated.
At that moment I stood in shock in front of the TV, all by myself, and I cried. I’m not sure why I cried; I didn’t personally know anyone who was in New York that day, but I couldn’t help myself. That feeling of deep sorrow, the kind of feeling you get when you lose a loved one, it overcame me. When my Mom got home we sat down and talked about it. She patiently answered my questions, all the while hiding her own grief in an extraordinary display of strength while I tried to wrap my head around everything that happened that day.
September 11th is a date that is permanently engrained in the minds of not just Americans, but the entire world. It’s a day where we all ignored our differences, where our race didn’t matter, where our ethnicity didn’t matter, where our sexual orientation and our political affiliation and our occupation didn’t matter. On that day we were just one thing. We were Americans, united in mourning, and strengthened by our collective will to move forward. If we could all just take a minute out of our days, on today of all days, to remember that day and reflect on how it brought us all together, and to honor those who lost their lives. Never forget.