Do you remember where you were when the first plane hit the twin towers? Do you remember the way it felt when the second plane hit and it became all too obvious that it was more than a simple mistake and that we were under attack?
I do. Still to this day it gives me chills.
I was in college in 2001, heading to my Educational Psychology class just before the first plane hit. Most of the classrooms on campus had TV’s, but they were rarely on and this particular teacher never had the TV on (she wasn’t exactly a nice teacher). But for some reason she had the news on, which struck most of us odd because like I said the TV was never on. And the plane hadn’t even hit yet, so it’s not like she had it on solely because of it, it was just a coincidence that we’d caught her watching TV before class.
Most of us took our seats and stared at the TV while we waited for class to begin, mainly because it was such a shock that we even had the luxury to on this particular day.
Luxury though, it wasn’t. Shock and terror was more like it.
Almost within minutes of taking my seat they showed the first plane hit the World Trade Center and a gasp was heard around the room. My teacher’s eyes became panicked and even though class should have began at that point no one moved as we listened to the news reporter’s pontificate about what happened. Some sort of malfunction? But no, shortly after we watched the second plane hit and instant panic swelled across the room. Some people even started to cry, my teacher being one of them. Apparently she had a relative who worked in one of the towers.
The loud speakers came on closing the campus until further notice which just sent everyone into an even deeper panic. We were under attack. War was taking place here on our land. The US, the strong and the brave, the leaders in warfare for years had been infiltrated.
As people scrambled towards their cars I tried calling my mother endlessly. She is a government employee who works on base, a base full of buried chemical warfare that would be an easy target if there were more attacks. All I kept thinking was how close we were to a possible target and that she was in the center of it. After several tries I finally reached her and they had shut down the base to army personal only, sending everyone else home. I sighed with relief, but cried for most of the ride home completely in disbelief that I lived to see a day where an enemy had found a way to successfully threaten us on US soil. I worried about how much further it would go, what would come as a result of it.
Everything about actually seeing it happen was devastating. Watching people jump from the building and plummet to their death, watching the towers crumble to the ground. Knowing how many lives the event took, knowing how many people outside of those dead it would affect. I didn’t even know anyone in the towers and it hurt me. I couldn’t imagine how those who actually had were feeling.
It was easily the worst day in our country in my lifetime and instilled a new fear in Americans. We’d always felt undefeatable, and we always were, but someone had broken our barriers. It was a frightening thought. Still, somehow it unified us, made us stronger. Almost every yard had an American Flag waving proudly in it after that, cars decorated with 9/11 or Never Forget decals. I’m positive the enemy wanted to break our spirit, but all it really did was bring us together.
Since 9/11 we’ve been at war. A war many supported initially, but no longer seem to remember the impact of that day and the reasons why we fight. I’ve known and spoken to hundreds of soldiers over seas. Soldiers who still believe in why they’re there, still fight to protect the freedom we’ve too quickly forgotten could so easily be taken from us. I’ve even lost friends to this battle, one of which died yesterday three years ago (the month before he was slated to come home). And while his loss pains me greatly, I’m constantly reminded of his belief in why he was there. The things he saw happening at the hands of those that tried to tear America apart.
The events that took place on 9/11 will never leave my memory. It forced me to grow up, and see the world and my own country as it really is. And though I’ve always respected the military, it gave me a new sense of devotion to them. An acknowledgment they rarely receive for the sacrifice they are willing to give. America’s finest men and women are the only reason the terrorists of the world don’t reek havoc on us daily. Without them, we would be nothing.