Every year on this day, it's impossible not to think of September 11, 2001.
I didn't know anyone personally in the towers, but it did change everything for me. When it happened I was 15. I remember being in Spanish class taking a test and someone coming in to tell us. They wouldn't turn on the TV until everyone finished the test, but time ran out in class before we could hear anything.
Wild rumors flew around the halls as I walked to my next class, a study hall. Everyone thought they knew everything about why it happened, but no one really understood the ramifications. In study hall, we were able to go to news sites and find out some more info. One of the students in the school had parents in the towers so the school banned turning on the TVs, but we could still go online. It still didn't really sink in.
I remember going home and finally turning on the news and watching silently, tears streaming down my face at the footage. I was devastated at the senseless act of violence. When my mom came home, she knew I'd been crying but she didn't ask me about it. After that first day, I refused to turn on the news. I collected magazines and newspapers about it, but I refused to read them. I still don't know why I did that.
As a senior in high school we had to do a project on the human condition. I chose violence and courage in the face of violence. I made a scrapbook of clippings illustrating that and for the first time, I went through those magazines. I cried the entire time, but this time I focused on the bravery of the rescuers and the survivors instead of just the tragedy.
A good family friend had to watch as their son was deployed to Afghanistan to fight the war on terror. He was captured. It took YEARS before his family finally got closure and found his body to bring him home. Just a couple of years ago, my best friend was deployed to Afghanistan and even though I knew she wouldn't see action (her position kept her on base), it terrified me that she might not come home. Luckily she served her time and came home safe.
So many people remember today by thinking of all of the lives that were lost. Don't forget the lives of those who were heroes, who risked their lives that day and every day since.