It’s been 13 years, but it doesn’t feel like it. I still remember my first visit to NYC and seeing all the famous landmarks, gawking at the size of the buildings. My last visit to the Big Apple was in 2010, and I made a point to walk by the site of where the twin towers stood. I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture of the Memorial building. Before 2010, everything about that day in 2001 was surreal, and when I was actually there in the freezing cold of December 2010, everything became so real to me. Do you remember where you were that day? I remember and will always remember.
My high school Honors English teacher stopped class and turned on the TV, they were broadcasting live news on all the TVs in the school. We all watched in horror and suspense as we saw the first tower burning. We watched, gasped, and some screamed as the second tower was hit. I pulled my phone out and texted relatives, praying that they weren’t in the city. I thought of friends in college who were there and hoped they weren’t anywhere near the towers. My teacher excused herself and disappeared. I knew she had a son in NYC but wasn’t sure if he worked in the WTC. Then, news of the Pentagon being attacked came in, and I feared for my relatives who lived around the area. Then, stories about United 93 trickled in between continued news about NYC, and everything just seemingly stopped for the day.
For the entire day, every TV in the school was on. I honestly don’t recall actually learning anything that day. Everyone tried to talk about something other than the attack during lunch, but for the most part, lunch was awkwardly quiet. When I got home that afternoon, I had to wait until my parents got home to ask if they heard from relatives. Everyone was fine; one slept in and missed the train into the city (which was also the case for my teacher’s son), another was stuck in traffic on the bridge, another wasn’t in the city at all. I did learn a few days later that someone I knew was supposed to be in Tower 2, but at the last minute got sick or something and their assistant went in their place. The assistant was never found. I also learned that a friend of mine was supposed to be in Tower 1 for some kind of internship program or something like it, but she got sick with an early flu and couldn’t go, but her classmate did and never returned.
Today, 9-11 is simply told as part of American history. The event takes up about 4-6 pages of textbook. I met some high school students in California who didn’t even know that 9-11 happened. It should not be just up to the teachers in schools and pages of a textbook to inform the future of this country of events that happened in this country. We who remember should share our knowledge, our memories no matter how painful.
2014 marks 13 years since the attacks in New York, Washington DC, and United 93, and it will go by – for the most part – unnoticed and unrecognized, except by those affected by the events. I will never forget the terror of the attacks, the courage of the rescues, the desperation of the victims and survivors, and the country’s will to fight back, and everyone who rallied around the cities and the families. Never forget 9:11.