9/11: 10 Years Later

On December 7, 1941, President Roosevelt declared Pearl Harbor a “date which will live in infamy.” No one could have predicted there would be another one of those tragic days on September 11, 2001. What started as a beautiful, ordinary Tuesday morning would soon become a day none of us would ever forget.
Ten years ago, I was a 13-year-old high school sophomore sitting in religion class. Interestingly enough, we’d been talking about how people turn to God in times of crisis. Little did we know, we were about to witness the greatest tragedy of our young lives.
During that class, Sister Margaret Andrew walked in and told us a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I didn’t think too much of it. It was probably an accident or a small jet, I told myself. We continued our discussion. Later, Sister came back and turned on the television. The South Tower had collapsed. 

I looked on in disbelief and horror. I’d just visited the Twin Towers that summer with my family. We stood on top of the South Tower observation deck. What do you mean it isn’t there anymore? A half hour later, the North Tower fell. These two giants that had dominated the NYC skyline were gone…just like that.

Our world and everything we thought we knew would change forever in that instant. I remember leaving school early and riding home with my dad, my sister and my grandmother. I’ve never prayed so hard in my life. I literally thought the world was going to end.

As soon as we got home, I immediately started writing in my journal. I had to get it all out about how I felt: scared, anxious, worried, nervous, sad, angry. Who could’ve done this to us? And, perhaps more importantly, why? I was young and naive. Like many of my colleagues that day, I feel as though we lost a bit of our innocence.

More than anything else, I remember my mom explaining to my sister and me why our dad, who is a firefighter, was upset. He’d lost 343 of his brothers. It was heartbreaking. That night, I hugged my family a little tighter and told them “I love you.”

If nothing else, I think 9/11 has taught all of us to be a little more caring, a little more loving and a lot more appreciative for everyday blessings. At least, I know this is what it’s taught me. So today, ten years after the horrific events in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., let’s honor those who lost their lives by hugging our family and friends and telling them we love them. After all, today is a gift and tomorrow isn’t promised to us.

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