10 years later

And now for a more personal post. Ten years ago today I was 14 years old, sitting in 8th grade science class at my very conservative, very religious Catholic middle school. At around 9:30 when the vice principal came on the PA system and told the entire school we needed to take a minute “to pray for some of the decisions the president is making at the moment” (and yes, I remember this exact quote), I assumed it was a random prayer request on behalf of the decision the government was making about funding stem cell research.

So when we found out two planes had crashed in the World Trade Center in New York City, I was surprised. We weren’t told anything except I do remember our art teacher let us listen to the radio in class. I think we were working on sketching that week. I couldn’t tell you what I was drawing.

After hours of distracted classes and administrators seen running up and down the stairs to dispel the latest news to teachers and a few tears from affected staff members, we headed to the chapel to pray….again. At this point, we had heard bits and pieces of what had happened and I was just plain scared. I remember my mom picking my up from school and all I said was “Mom are we going to war?” Apparently this was the suggested solution from my Republican-only school. That night was spent not doing my math homework but instead talking on the phone with my best friend at the time and having my dad reassure me I would be safe.

It’s crazy how fast 10 years go by. Now, I live in a world where air travel has become a nuisance due to heightened security and the world still looks at the Islam religion with questioning minds. I was lucky enough to not have been personally affected by September 11, 2011 but I have met people in passing who lost loved ones. Between Hurricane Katrina, Princess Diana’s death, the 2004 presidential election and the 2008 financial crisis, I have seen many historical world events in my mere 24 years, but 9/11 is one that will stick with me forever. I will never forget the photos of the airplane heading nose first into the first tower, crowds of people running from the smoke billowing down New York’s downtown streets, the horrific pictures of people falling from the buildings and the hopeful images of firefighters raising the American flag over the rubble.

Sept. 11 was my generation’s Pearl Harbor. It’s my great-grandparents’ Great Depression. And hopefully in one way or another, we’ve all learned something from it.

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