I wrote the following blog post a year ago just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
I have too many emotions concerning the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to not blog about. A lot of people have already taken to their blogs to do so, because writing (as I have fully believed since I was 14) is the only way to get real emotions out sometimes.
Since this year is my first year working full-time in the journalism industry, I have been more inundated with articles, videos, posts and memories than normally. But I feel like, in a weird way, it’s a good thing for me. To take a step back daily to read through stories and remember that day, because it makes me appreciative to be alive and appreciative to be an American.
I remember where I was in 9/11. Most of you do, too. I’m currently in the process of collecting “Where I found out about Sept. 11” stories from our paper’s readers. Reading through them, I realized that these stories bring us together, bind us. Because regardless of your gender, age, ethnicity, economic status, etc., you found out about Sept. 11 and you were stunned, horrified, scared, angry, sad… Just like the rest of us. It’s something that we, as a nation, have in common. Something that brings us together once a year now, regardless of everything else going on in our lives.
On Sept. 11, 2001, I was 13. I had woken up, had breakfast, and wanted to watch some TV with my 11-year-old sister before starting my schoolwork. (No, we weren’t playing hookey—we were home schooled.) We went to our basement, turned on the TV and saw a large building on fire. I read, “Plane crashes into World Trade Center.” I honestly don’t remember whether or not the second tower had been hit yet, but I’m pretty sure it had been.
As a 13-year-old, I wasn’t completely aware of what the World Trade Center was or what the significance of this was, but I knew it was probably something very bad. And that scared me, so my sister and I opted to change the channel in hopes that something non-disaster would be on one of the other channels. Not true. It was on every channel. Big, screaming headlines about New York City, World Trade Center and planes flying into things they weren’t supposed to.
I was scared, so I went to go tell my mom. I started off on some rambling about bad news, TV wasn’t showing normal stuff right now, blah blah blah, and then I finally spit it out: “Some planes flew into the World Trade Center.” She gasped and immediately ran downstairs to the TV. Soon after, our phone started ringing. People wanting to make sure my mom was watching the TV. How my mom must’ve felt, being home with three kids, who were all confused and scared on varying levels, I don’t know. But I am so grateful that she stayed as calm as she did, because I don’t remember seeing her cry or shriek or anything, which would have sent me into a whirlwind of a panic.
All four of us started off watching the coverage together. My brother, being only 9 at the time, was not as affected and just knew that something interesting was happening on TV. I bailed out with my sister after watching the first tower fall, I believe. I couldn’t handle it. Never in my life had I wanted to do homework so badly, just for a sense of normalcy. So my sister and I sat upstairs, working on homework. My brother would bring updates every so often, each one more horrifying than the last.
Eventually, I headed back down to watch again, only to find out the Pentagon had been hit. I was sure that the world was ending. I just wanted to cry, but I couldn’t. I heard the Sears Tower in Chicago, about an hour and a half from where we lived, was being evacuated. I knew then: This was really, really bad, and it could keep happening. I didn’t know if we were all going to survive through the day.
By the end of the day, I could only sparingly watch the TV before the amount of fear and worry became too much. I’m not a very emotional person on the outside, so I usually internalize things. I was a wreck on the inside. I knew my world had forever changed, I just wasn’t sure how exactly. Four planes had been hijacked that day, possibly the first time I had ever heard the word “hijack” used. Would we ever fly planes again? We did, a few days later. My sister said one flew over where her soccer practice was being held, and some of the girls freaked out and started running for cover. Our innocent childhoods all had forever been taken away, because now we had been ushered into the age of fear.
Because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I almost didn’t end up in the industry I’m in now. For several years after the attacks, I didn’t want to watch the news on TV anymore and I didn’t like when my mom listened to talk radio in the car, because every time I heard the words “Breaking news” I got scared all over again, thinking “What if it’s happening again?” I avoided news at all costs. Somehow, by the time I entered college, my emotional scars had healed enough where I actually realized it’s better for me to be informed, because the more I know about a situation, the more I’m able to work through it. Thankfully, this realization allowed me to delve into a journalism degree, which is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the world I grew up in was much different than it should have been. Anthrax scares, increased security at airports, bombings, war… All those became buzz words during my teenage years because of the new era we had entered. Those are all things I shouldn’t have had to even think or worry about until I was much, much older.
Because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I am extremely thankful to be an American. I grew up in an era, while filled with fear, that brought out so much patriotism in everyone. Regardless of the events and reasons that preceded the attacks, we were all together now. Independence Day parades weren’t just about cute kids and clowns anymore. Flags being flown wasn’t just for Memorial Day anymore. Singing the National Anthem wasn’t just about traditions before ball games anymore. Even if the sting and fear has lessened over the years, we pause on this anniversary now to remember those who needlessly lost their lives that day and to remind ourselves we were united.
That’s my 9/11 story. What’s yours?