I felt compelled to write about September 11th today, being that is the 15th anniversary. Fifteen long years, and I still can’t wrap my brain around this day. Perhaps it’s not meant to be understood, or perhaps I’ve made all the sense of it I can make. Whatever the case, it is, annually, a day for me to reflect on how far humanity has come, or regressed — and how much our world has changed since that day.
Like most others who lived through the horrific event that was September 11th, 2001, I have clear, awful memories of that day. I was in 7th grade band class. As I was traveling from band to my next hour, I remember seeing some of my friends crying in the hallway, saying their brothers, fathers, and uncles would be headed to war — I didn’t understand. What had happened in the last 50 minutes that I missed?
My next hour was math, I sat down and like the rest of my classmates was eager to hear from the adults in our school what was going on. They said they couldn’t tell us. They didn’t know enough. There had been a bombing, they said. The whole country was on high alert — unsure of what would happen next. The rest of the day was business as usual; the adults acted like nothing had happened but word was spreading quick that something big had happened on the East Coast.
I got off the bus and hurried home. My mom was worried, and I could tell she had been crying. She sat me down and told me what happened. I cried. We cried together. We watched the news all night and cried more. Even then, not quite 13, my heart broke for the thousands of victims and their families, friends, and loved ones — whom had just gone to work on another normal September day — never to return home again.
Now, it’s been 15 years and the students I teach weren’t even alive to remember that day. Today, I am grateful — because it’s Sunday, and because I live to see another day filled with the ones I love and cherish. But I’m also grateful that I’m not at school for my students to grill me about the events of today’s past. I know they are simply curious — they’ve heard the story, seen the pictures, and they want to know more. So I always indulge and tell them, even though it breaks my heart every year, and every year I still shed more than a few tears for all the innocent people who lost their lives and lost their loved ones that day. No matter how I explain it, it will never mean to them what it means to me. They will never understand the pain we felt as a nation that day. They will never understand why I cry year after year; they didn’t live it. You can’t understand unless you survived that day.
For me September 11th is a day that will always hold extreme significance in my life. It may sound dramatic to some; and yes, life has continued on and our world has changed tremendously. Much of the change in the United States can be tied back to the events of September 11th, 2001, even fifteen years later. If you’re a big picture thinker like me, perhaps you too, can understand why this day is always heavy on my mind, come it’s somber anniversary. It changed so many things about our nation, our society, and our government. Still, we live on high alert. There isn’t a person today that doesn’t know the word “terrorism.”
Life has gone on, and on; yet annually, September 11th comes and goes, and with it, the healing is ongoing. Fifteen years later, the healing is still ongoing. September 11th, the events, the legacy of this day, will forever be ongoing.
May we never forget.