Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Decade Later, We Remember

Ten years have past since the events of September 11, 2001. I was 12. I was in seventh grade at Louis Pasteur Middle School. I remember the moment. The moment that my world froze, long enough for me to take in particular details about my surroundings. The first memory I have of that day is of my dad and I.

I walked into the family room and there he was. Just standing there watching the horrible events unfold on the news. I'm not sure what was said—if anything. But I could feel that something horrible was happening. We both just stood there. I don't know for how long, but long enough for my eyes to open up to the world. Long enough for me to realize that the world was bigger than my middle school life, bigger than my little city in Northern California. Something was happening that was much more important than the fact that I was wearing my favorite, sparkly, silver headband with my white uniform shirt. This little 12-year-old "sevie" was witnessing history.

The next thing I remember was my dad driving me to school. (Though, there may be some discrepancies in my account—my dad doesn't remember driving me to school that morning. He says he had to go in extra early for work.) It was over the radio that we learned that the first tower collapsed. The emotions of the radio newscaster were humbling.

School was different that day. The conversations of my peers no longer revolved around their rainbow toe socks or whatever else junior high schoolers worry about. Even at 12, we knew things had changed. School started with English and ended with PE. But really we just watched the news. I don't remember seeing some of my Muslim friends that day. In PE, Mrs. Postelnek had us sit on our little designated spots on the blacktop. She talked to us and tried to help us understand.

I think every child who could understand even a little of what was happening grew up that day. This was the first news event that I remember extensively paying attention to.

Here are a few excerpts from my journal on September 12, 2001:

"Yesterday was a horrible day! Thousands of people died."

"Everyone here in America is putting flags up. My mom and dad [both] bought one so I don't know what my dad is doing with the extra one."

"President Bush just got through a long vote for president and now this. I mean, it's like we are living through history. Many people are calling this Pearl Harbor II. All malls, movie theaters, roads to the dams, and many big places are closed."

"September 11, 2001 was a day that will be printed in history books and always be remembered."

"I don't think I will be getting on an airplane for a long time."

I had this doll named Molly, and I also had a lot of accessories for her. She was from the American Girl series. In my journal it also says that I pulled out her little flag and put it in my doll's hand. My 9 year old sister did the same for her Kirsten doll. My two youngest sisters were 4 and 5. They don't remember anything about that day.

For ten years I have watched over and over again the video footage of 9/11 and seen many still photos. Every time, my heart drops to my stomach. Every time, I am in awe. And every time, I feel paralyzed.

I will always remember that day. It's been ten years and I have grown into an adult. But whenever I think of that day, I will always feel like that 12-year-old girl in her favorite, sparkly, silver headband, who finally saw what the world was like. The girl who was scared and unsure of what would happen, but who had a great love for her country.


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