The first hint I had that something was wrong was before the start of my 8th grade English class. Everyone was talking and laughing like normal before the bell rang. Someone at my table started laughing about a building being blown up. I’m sure he was repeating something he had heard in another class and didn’t really understand what was going on. He said something about us being under attack. That’s when our teacher noticed. She shushed him up with a sharp voice and a sad look as a tear glistened in her eye. She told us to gather our stuff and line up by the door. We were led down the hallway to another classroom. The students in that class and several teachers were gathered around one of those tvs on a rolling cart common in schools those days. We got there to watch right as the second tower fell.
Like most Americans on September 11, 2001, I remember the absolute shock and horror I felt that day. Who would do such a thing? I cried for the victims and was thankful for the heroes. The day passed in a blur of moving from class to class. The halls were oddly silent. For one day, middle school students who were really still just scared kids and their teachers who I’m sure felt like scared kids all felt and acted the same way. We were shocked. We were uncertain of the future. We were solemn. We were heartbroken.
After school, all I wanted to do was hug my parents. We sat down to eat and continue watching the news coverage. At one point that evening, Mama made Laura and I go outside to play. I guess she wanted us to have some normalcy in the face of such a horrific day. News of that nature is bound to be scary to two young girls. Laura and I jumped on our trampoline. We were quiet at first, but then we started laughing like normal. I felt so weird and ashamed to be jumping and playing like nothing had ever happened. I wanted to cry again, but I could tell my little sister needed that bit of fun.
I jumped higher and higher until I started to forget, just for a moment, that I was living in an evil world where bad things happen. I looked over the back fence and saw the older couple who lived behind us walk out their front door. They walked hand in hand down their driveway to the mailbox. They caught my eye and smiled. In that moment, I was relieved that there were still good things in a world that now seemed so dark. My innocence and sense of security was shattered that day. That moment on the trampoline brought hope and sunshine back into my life. There would be time for remembering, sorrow, and news watching later. For a few minutes I needed to jump higher and higher up to a blue sky where things were still good.
Eleven years later, it still seems unreal that something like that could happen here. Today is a day of sadness and remembering for so many. I pray for all those who lost loved ones that terrible day. I pray for our country to find the unity we all felt in the days and months after 9/11. I pray for the safety of those who fight to make sure we still keep our freedom. I will never forget. God bless the USA.
Where were you?