Ten years ago today, I was sitting in my 8th grade English class when I found out about the attacks on our country. The first plane hit the towers at 8:46 a.m. and I was either at the bus stop, or already on the bus. When we arrived at the middle school, it seemed like a normal day. At 9:30 our first class started, and the large majority of the student body still had no idea what was happening.
A classmate of mine who had gone to the bathroom came back and told us that a plane had hit the Pentagon. We all told him he didn't know what he was talking about - that there is no way a plane could hit the Pentagon. A few minutes after that our principal came over the intercom. I don't remember anymore what exactly he said, but I remember that from that point on it was no longer a normal school day. Our teacher Mrs. Webb told us about the World Trade Centers towers, and then turned on the television where we all learned together about first the Pentagon and then the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
The rest of the day we changed classes like normal, but we didn't do any school work. We just sat there and watched the news. And when we got home, we just sat there and watched the news some more.
Two years ago I got to talk to Mrs. Webb about that day. She told me that they had had an emergency faculty meeting that morning after the first attacks had happened. All of the teachers came together, cried, and then consoled one another. Then, they wiped their tears and resolved to go about their day as if nothing had happened. To this day, I cannot believe that all of those teachers had the strength to do such a thing, but they did. Although I remember being sad and confused on that day, I don't remember being scared, and I think I have Mrs. Webb to thank for that.
I don't think I fully understood what all of it meant that day. And a part of me still wonders if I know the full scope of impact those attacks had. I did not know anyone aboard any of the planes or anyone who worked at the WTC or Pentagon. But my heart & prayers go out to those who were affected by this tragic event.
I feel as though I have a responsibility to make sure the next generation doesn't forget that day. My juniors were in 1st grade when the attacks happened. They don't remember much except that people left school early and that they sat around and watched the news. My freshmen don't remember anything - they were only 4 years old. It shocks me that they don't have any memories of these tragic events, but then I remind myself that it's not their fault. Just like I don't have memories of the first WTC bombing, Challenger explosion or the assassination of JFK, these kids have no memories of 9/11. They've always grown up in a world that includes terrorism, war, long airport security checks, and color-coded security levels.
My grandfather's generation had Pearl Harbor. My mother's generation had the JFK assassination. My generation has 9/11. I pray with all that's in me that this generation will know a life without having to ask themselves, "Where was I when ________ happened?"