Sunday, September 11, 2011

A time for reflection

It's hard to remember a world where words like "terrorist" and "terrorism" only existed in the movies.

Like so many other Americans, I remember September 11, 2001 very clearly. I was 13 years old, just barely going into my second week as a freshman in high school. I woke up early that morning to get ready for 0 period band, and by then my dad was already glued to the TV, watching reports about a plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. I didn't understand any of it then, but I remember thinking that it must have been some kind of awful freak accident. Watching footage of the burning building left me in utter disbelief. I had witnessed the glory of the Twin Towers only 5 months before, on a school trip to New York and Washington D.C. with my 8th grade class.

My dad had the day off, and so he took me and my friends to school. During the commute to one of my friend's house, we heard about the second plane crash.

"It's a terrorist attack," my dad said. And there it was. Terrorist. The word that caused me to feel completely confused, and very scared.

While 9/11 is painfully etched in many of our minds, I also remember the night of 9/10/01 very clearly. In my last conscious moments of the night, I remember sitting in bed and praying as I normally do. But that night, I just felt so sleepy that all I could muster was a "Dear God, please keep everyone safe and happy tomorrow."

This sleepy prayer was all I could think about as I sat through 0 period and listened to our band director talk to us, and it kept repeating in my head as my 1st period biology teacher made us watch the news before reluctantly clicking off the television to resume her lesson. It was all I could hear as the skies above my home were silenced and void of any aircrafts, and it was all I could hear as the news repeatedly showed footage of the Pentagon and falling towers for weeks, and months to come.

All I could do was feel guilty that maybe I just didn't pray hard enough for all the innocent people that lost their lives that day. I was so shaken by this thought that I couldn't even shed a tear.

Fastforward to this very moment, and I can't say that a decade's worth of knowledge has enabled me to completely understand it all. I still don't understand how some people can feel so heartless as to intentionally take away the lives of thousands, but I don't think any of us have an explanation for that.

I'll never forget that horrible day, and today I pay tribute to those who lost their lives in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I'm praying for the broken families, for the children that lost their beloved parents, and those that will never know the parents that they've lost. I pray that words like "terrorism" and "hate" are forgotten and replaced with words like "Patriotism" and "love."

...and God knows that I'm praying harder now.

Taken in April 2001, on my 8th grade trip to New York

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