It was a normal Tuesday morning…just like any other morning (or at least I thought so). I was sitting in my 3rd period class working on some pointless assignment, when I noticed some students had gathered around my teacher’s computer. I got up and walked over to see what all the buzz was about. When I caught a glimpse of the screen, there was a video of a plane crashing into a realllllly tall building.
My teacher said, “Those are the World Trade Centers. Two planes have crashed into them this morning. At first they thought it was an accident from a private plane, but after the second one crashed they are now saying it was a possible terrorist attack”.
“The what centers??” I think to myself. “A what attack???”
Afterall, what thirteen year-old knew what the WTCs were? I sure didn’t.
Later that day, we found out our volleyball game and all extra curricular activities were cancelled for that afternoon. I went home and shortly after, my sister arrived home. My mom told us to take my sister’s car and fill up with gas. Again, I didn’t understand what gas had to do with people crashing planes into buildings, but I tagged along with my sister anyways. Nobody wanted to be alone that day.
I remember being glued to the television that night. My whole family sat there together watching the coverage of the day’s tragic events. I had never been so interested in the news, as I was that day. President George W. Bush came on with a speech, telling everyone that he would not rest until the people responsible were brought to justice. He kept going on about Afghanistan and all I could think about is “where in the world did they come up with a name like that for a country?” And for a third time in one day, I was confused. I didn’t see the connection between that country and the USA.
That entire day I slowly tried to figure out what had really happened and what it meant, why it happened and who was so mad at us? I just didn’t understand.
What I did understand that day, however, was what it meant to be an American. I think that day we all understood. After watching thousands of men and women, fire fighters and cops, bystanders and family members risk their lives to help others and find people in all the rubble, I knew what our country was about.
I not only saw what our country could do when being attacked, I felt it. As I sat there on my couch, I cried for those people. I cried for the moms and the dads that didn’t get to say goodbye to their children. I cried for the spouses that said their last, “I love you”‘s that morning. And I cried for the people who felt it was okay to take innocent lives in order to make a statement.
I hear the song, “Proud to be an American” and I am instantly taken back to the moment. Instantly. I get goose bumps thinking back to the footage of our country coming together. I may not have been directly involved or impacted by the event’s, but I think we all learned a little bit more about our country on that gruesome day. And that was a cool thing to see, whether you understood everything or not.
Thank you to those men and women who risked everything on September 11, 2001 and thank you to those who are still defending our freedom today. You are truly heroes. God bless the USA.