"When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love." -Love Actually
It was a beautiful day in early September. I remember how gorgeous it was when my mom picked me up from school that day and thinking how the perfect blue sky contrasted with the evil that had taken place.
I remember going to my 2nd period class, where I was an aide to a special needs child, and the teachers showed me briefly on the TV that an airplane had hit one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Still thinking at this point that it was an accident, I wheeled the student down to the choir room where they listened to the music and informed the choir teacher what had happened. She seemed surprised, but still ignorant of the full situation unfolding, choir class continued as normal.
The details of the rest of my day at school are fuzzy now, ten years later, but I remember slowly learning about multiple planes and coming to the realization that our nation was under attack. If my memory is correct, the school administrators wanted the teachers to keep the televisions off, but we all were still talking about it anyway, wondering what was going on.
When my mom picked me up, I remember her gazing up at that perfect blue sky, completely quiet for once since we live so close to a major airport and they had grounded all air traffic, and saying that things were crazy right now. I sat on my bed, trying to do my math homework and talking to my friend who was worried about a relative at the Pentagon, and realized the world I lived in was suddenly a scary place.
I am actually grateful that I was 13 when these attacks happened, because if I was any younger, I wouldn't have understood or maybe even remembered. And I am thankful that I wasn't any older, because I probably would have been terrified.
The rest of the week, our television was tuned to the news 24/7. I would walk through the living room, my parents sitting on the couch staring at the scenes of destruction as the newscasters talked about body counts, lost loved ones, and the occasional survivor found.
People were afraid to leave their houses, get on an airplane, trust anyone who looked like the terrorists they saw on TV.
Despite this fear, after the attacks, national morale was higher than I have ever seen it in my short life. Patriotism was everywhere. Since we felt we had been blindsided by an evil enemy, we banded together as one strong nation under God who would not be overcome. If we lived in fear, the terrorists had succeeded, and we could not let them get away with it.
Ten years have gone by now, and I am still filled with awe and horror at the images and footage they play from that fateful Tuesday. I just think of the people that got on the subway that morning to go to work who wouldn't be making an evening commute home, the people who boarded a plane not knowing what was about to happen to them, the children whose parents didn't pick them up from school that afternoon, and all the people who lost a loved one or a friend.
We can't change what happened that day. We can pray that those in charge of our national security prevent such horror from happening again, and we can also remember. We should never forget those that lost their lives that day, including those who died trying to save other victims.
There is a reason this country is the land of the free and the home of the brave. The world saw a lot of hate that day, but what stood out more was the sacrifice, compassion, and love that people showed for one another in our darkest hours.