I only have a few distinct memories from that day. I was in the fourth grade. The school year was just really getting really started. It was a beautiful Georgia day out, and I was loving my 9 year old life.
None of the teachers told us what was going on, but all the kids knew something was amiss. I don’t remember what time of day I left school, but it must have been the morning. Everyone was getting pulled out by their parents. Though I thought it was strange, I was just happy to get to go home and play.
When my sister and I (she was in first grade) walked out of the school, we found both our parents waiting for us. This is when I realized that something must have been really serious. Our parents had been divorced for over four years and we never encountered them together.
I asked what was going on. Perhaps our parents told us that there had been an accident. I don’t remember what happened until we got to my father’s house and they turned on the TV. We were just in time to see one of the hundreds of replays of the second plane crashing into the South Tower.
I immediately started crying. It was a horror, a tragedy that was happening right now on American soil. My mother told us that all of our family was safe. Nobody worked in that area of the city.
I hardly watched for sixty seconds before I asked them to turn them off. Even at my young age I completely understood the magnitude of the situation. I realized that I was witnessing history. Future generations would read about this day in school, and kids might ask me what it was like to live this day. At the same time, I felt guilty realizing that events like this happen all around the world but I never seemed to care about those events, only this one. I still feel guilty about that to this day.
Later that day I did see footage of the towers falling. I cannot imagine what it could have been like to be near that attack. I was far away physically, but near in spirit as all of us were.
Of course, the WTC towers were not the only buildings to be attacked. There was also a crash at the pentagon and a final plane that missed its target but still crashed to the ground, killing its passengers. We lost almost 3,000 lives to the events of that day.
Today I am enjoying the most perfect weather I have ever witnessed in South Carolina. There is not a cloud in the sky. But I’m confident there is not a hijacked plane up there, either. The horrors of September 11th did have one silver lining: they brought us together as a nation. I hope that on this anniversary, we can put our election squabbles aside and remember that we are all proud Americans.