9/11: When It Finally Hits You

I arrived at my school, ready for my normal day in the 8th grade. It didn’t take long before the chatter reached me. “Planes have flown into the World Trade Center!”

In my city, there is a building called The Trade Center, and I was so confused. At age 13, you don’t know what the WTC towers are. You don’t know that they even exist, much less how large they are, or how iconic they are. I made my way to Miss Swafford’s Algebra class where the news is on the classroom TV. It is announced that the campus is on lockdown, and my first reaction, as a selfish 13 year old, is “Ugh, not in Algebra.”

The footage of the second tower being hit is playing, and my teacher turns the TV off. My classmates are mostly annoyed, because that means we have to go back to book work. We just had no idea. None.

Parents started picking up their children, panicked. I heard rumors of Moms and Dads worrying about the Naval Air Station coming under attack. We went about our day after the lockdown was lifted, completely unaware of the severity of the events that had transpired.

That night, my parents and I went to the local hospital where a blood drive had been put together. We sat in the waiting room until well past midnight so that Mom and Dad could give blood. People honked in the parking lot, waving American flags, hugging, crying. I just didn’t have the capacity to understand the entirety of what had happened. Of course, I knew many people had died, but I think I was so desensitized that it just didn’t click. It felt like a movie, and I was totally detached from the concept of individual lives that were lost.

This isn’t about politics or the war that started because of 9/11 or how I feel about that war now. It’s about that day, and that day alone. Now that I am 23 with three kids of my own, I feel immense guilt that there are people my age that are parentless because of the terrorist attacks. There are people who never got to have children of their own, or if they had, their children now must learn to navigate the world without their parents.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post about 9/11. I know it’s a very emotionally charged day, but I just felt the need to say something. Because now, I get it. I’m ten years wiser, and though I may have been young and unaware on that day, I will never, ever forget.