Never ForgetPosted: September 11, 2013
“Remember the hours after September 11th when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran upstairs and risked their lives so that others might live; when rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon; when the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol; when flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.” – Senator John Kerry
Twelve years ago today, I sat in my fourth grade classroom, learning math when my school principal came on the loudspeaker, “Attention all faculty and students–there has been an attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. An airplane has flown directly into the North Tower. Approximately 15 minutes later, another aircraft flew into the South Tower.” The announcement continued to discuss the events that had taken place on that fateful September 11th, 2001. Those might not have been the exact words, but hey, I was 9 years old, I don’t remember verbatim.
What I do remember though, is being terrified. I remember exactly where I was sitting in my class room. I remember who I was sitting next to. I remember hundreds children being picked up from school, wondering if I would be next. I remember sitting in a group of friends at recess with some friends, trying to make heads or tails of this situation as a young fourth grader. I remember meeting my parents after school. I remember seeing horrifying images of planes crashing, debris falling to the ground and trapping bystanders, of people jumping from windows. I remember learning that there were more attacks than just on the World Trade Center, but in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania as well–all of this hitting too close to home. Hell, I even remember what I had for dinner that night (chicken nuggets, FYI).
But what I also remember, most importantly, is how the country came together after this tragedy. How such and outpouring of patriotism and support could come together so quickly and how such a devastating even could unify us, bring us closer together than ever.
Twelve years later, here I am, a senior at Cornell University, and this day still sends shivers down my spine. I can’t imagine what it was like to be involved in 9/11, whether as a survivor, someone who risked their life to help, or someone who just missed their train by 30 seconds that day and missed work. I have a friend who’s father was part of the rescue effort–he didn’t come home for weeks. It was also hard on families everywhere.
Before I go any further–words cannot even begin to describe how THANKFUL I am for those who constantly risk and give their lives so that we can remain free here in the USA. Home of the free because of the brave. Thank you to our armed forces for keeping this country safe.
I have actually just met my first 9/11 survivor–one of my landlords. He used to work in one of the towers and this topic somehow managed to come up in conversation a few weeks ago. He worked in one of the higher floors on the North Tower, and I was in awe as he recounted his tale of survival. Listening him to describe the confusion, then the fear, panic, the heat, escaping… I could not wrap my mind around it. I honestly don’t know if I could have responded with as much calm as he had. I’m amazed.
I chose the above quote from Senator John Kerry to emphasize what I had mentioned already–just how quickly the country became united as one. Before, we thought we were invincible, that no one could harm us on our soil. September 11th was a wake up call, loud and clear. Flags immediately hung from every house, everyone became friends because we had a common enemy. I think Kerry puts it best, “It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
Since that day, my love for this country has continued to grow. Call it conceited, call it arrogant or ignorant, call it whatever you want–but I love this country and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
God Bless the USA. Never forget.