Mrs. Ruff’s 5th grade math class in downtown Washington, D.C. That’s where I was when I found out we were under attack. It is amazing how profound an impact one moment in history can have on your life. I never want September 11th to just become another day to the American public. Even 14 years later, I always feel this overwhelming sense of sadness. My heart feels heavy and after all these years, I still don’t know how to appropriately remember the anniversary. I feel guilty for being anything but sad on this day. Having been born and raised in downtown D.C., it is hard to connect with most people, especially after moving up to Michigan, because they just don’t share the same memories or experiences as me. While life continues to go on, for me, it stops every September 11th. I feel as though I’m back in Mrs. Ruff’s classroom in downtown D.C.
I remember the teachers running in and out of the classroom. I remember the students crying because their parents worked in the Pentagon. I remember a girl in my class sobbing because her Dad had a meeting that day in the World Trade Center. I remember being picked up from school early by my parents because the school wanted to make sure everyone’s parents were still alive. I remember my Mom and Dad trying to get a hold of my Aunt who was a flight attendant for American Airlines based out of Washington, D.C. and typically flew the D.C. to L.A. route. I remember not having school for a few days and being glued to the TV, watching the same images over and over again. I remember the fighter jets overhead at night while I slept. I remember the fear of NOT hearing the fighter jets and wondering if we were under attack again. I remember driving by the damaged Pentagon a few weeks after the attack and seeing the blackened hole where the plane hit. I remember everything about that day so vividly.
My siblings and I all lost a bit of our innocence on September 11th. The world can be an evil place. Through all the destruction and horror and tragedy of September 11th, there came so many stories of hope and triumph and love. The United States of America isn’t perfect but man, am I proud every single time I tell someone I’m American. Or when I’m traveling and show that American passport. I am so darn proud of this amazing country. Because September 11th proved that nothing can knock us down. We will come together. We will persevere. We will overcome. And we will come out stronger than ever.
Today I remember all those who passed away on September 11th. I remember my friends who lost parents during the attacks. I remember all of those who have fought for my freedom and continue to fight for my freedom. I thank my lucky stars every day that I get to call this great nation home.
God Bless America.