Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 11th Anniversary of 9/11

So, I really had a completely other post topic planned for today, but I realized this morning that it is the anniversary of September 11th, 2001.  Which is now called Patriot Day.  So I feel like writing a snarky post about something else was slightly inappropriate. 

Which brings me to the dilemma of not being offensive if I am slightly snarky about September 11th. 

I completely understand how serious and tragic that day was.  I can still vividly see video clips replaying in my mind, smoke billowing from two buildings.  I remember exactly what happened that morning on September 11th, 2001. 

I was in 6th grade that year.  Every morning, I walked to the bus stop, which happened to be not very close to my house.  Middle school started late in my county.  I would stand at the bus stop by myself, since my sister was still in 5th grade.  A blonde girl, named Sarah or Emily or something plain that I don't remember, was also at my bus stop, and her grandmother would sit in the mini van at the bus stop and watch us all, making sure a kidnapper didn't pull over on the side of the road, toss all of us children into the back of a van, and speed off to sell us into slavery. 

That morning, Sarah/Emily/Jane's grandmother repeated what she had heard on the radio.  A plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings.  Us kids, we all marveled at how tragic that plane crash was, wondering if a pilot had been drunk or sick.  None of us even knew what terrorism was.  I had never heard of Afghanistan.  That morning, at the bus stop, I can't remember if we heard about the second plane or not.  Sarah/Jane/Emily's grandmother let us all on to the bus.  No one really knew what was going on.  Like I said, no one had heard of Afghanistan or terrorism... we all thought it was an accident. 

Fast forward to school, and all I remember was sitting in my math class.  I've always been a nerd, and I was in a magnet program at my middle school with accelerated math and sciences.  Which meant I had two periods of math class that year.  I also think, being my first class, that was also considered my "homeroom."  I don't remember if I went to other classes that day.  All I remember is sitting in my desk and staring at the TV, which had been wheeled around on the AV cart, as the news replayed the video footage, over and over.  Staring at the TV.  Staring.  For hours.  Every student in Mrs. Higgings-Miller's classroom stared at that TV. 

We heard about Afghanistan.  Osama Bin Laden.  Al Qaeda.  Terrorists.  We had no idea what any of that meant.  Surely, no one would fly a perfectly good airplane directly into a perfectly good building on purpose.  But, how could the same accident happen twice?  And then again in the Pentagon?  What was going on?

I think the entire world was confused that day.  I think, in addition to the enormous amount of lives lost that day, the second most tragic part of that event wsa how confused America was.  No one knew what was going on, or why.  Sure, the news attempted to explain it to us, but it was like someone was explaining brain surgery to me.  I was clueless. 

I don't remember if I went to any other classes that day.  I don't remember if our school had a "lock down," as if thousands of terrorists themselves were going to storm little John F. Kennedy Middle School in the middle of the ghetto.  I don't think any of the teachers taught.  There really was no point.  Everyone was distracted.  Once everything started to process, parents started pulling students out of school left and right.  My parents didn't take me out of school.  I got home that day and asked what had happened, and I'm sure my mom tried to explain it to me, but she had no idea. 

The next few years of my life were peppered with commercials for commemorate plates, coins, figurines, posters, photos, books for 9/11.  Every English class I had for the next few years assigned a paper to write about your experience that Tuesday morning.  Every house suddenly had a flag hanging outside.  The American camraderie was incredible.  Quite possibly, the post card I have of the Twin Towers will be a relic in a few decades.  Everyone learned where Afghanistan was on a map.  And all the other "-stan" countries. 

September 11th is probably the most eye-opening tragedies of my generation.  Maybe it was party my 6th-grade naivety and ignorance, but I feel like a lot more of America realized there were countries in-between Germany and China.  The entire scope and war as we know it changed.  I can't say I knew anyone who lost their life in the towers or the Pentagon.  I didn't know any of the rescue heroes.  I didn't have any connection to New York City.  I'm not Muslim, I don't deal with prejudiced repercussions of extremist hate.  I didn't suffer from September 11, but that event and America after will remain an incredible and powerful influence on the life I lead. 


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