Today, we remember.
We remember a day that none will forget, even if we were able to.
As an educator, I have the task to educate a group of teenagers about a day that most of them have no recollection of, and the ones that do actually only have the memories their parents have imparted on them. I show them documentaries. Some cry feeling the weight of the towers when they crash and most giggle occasionally over the fashion choices of the early 2000s. This doesn’t make them heartless.
So what do I tell them? How do I tell them about the day we were all forever changed?
I tell them about what life was like as an 8th grader in 2001. They realize that I wasn’t much different from them. Then I tell them about sitting in a cold auditorium, confused and slightly annoyed. I looked around, played with my ponytail, and wondered why all of the teachers were crying. The principal asked if we knew what a “terrorist” was. A senior raised his hand and gave a definition he was proud of. He shouldn’t have been. He still hadn’t told me what that word meant.
The principal took a breath in and told us that our country was under attack. To cement his point, he turned on the television that had been rolled into the auditorium. Before our young, naive eyes, we watched buildings burn. We watched people jump from burning buildings. We watched journalists sit in silence watching the same footage and, for once in their careers, have nothing to say.
We were in shock.
I turned to my best friend and asked her if all of this was real. She shrugged. Nothing in our 13 years of life had prepared us for what had happened, what continued to happen, and what was yet to come.
I went home that afternoon and hugged my family tight. I’ve hugged them tighter since. Because that’s one thing the terrorists never planned on. They never planned that their heinous, evil attack would actually build a stronger country.
What I saw on September 11 shocked and saddened me. What I witnessed from Americans post-tragedy changed me forever.
Americans came together in the face of great terror and sadness. They donated blood, clothes, money, and time to each other in a sign of love and solidarity. We saluted the flag and held our country near to our hearts.
We became a stronger America. In the face of an election year, may we never forget that, regardless of political affiliation, we are all Americans. And united we stand.