I've only told a handful of people my 9/11 story. Lots of people have told stories about where they were and what happened when they found out, but not me. For reasons I'd rather not go into at this time, I can tell you that I felt more connected to 9/11 than anyone else around me. I felt this way because I was around the news nearly all day every day. Before I get too far, I'll back up and tell the story from the beginning.
It was a normal day for the most part, the day after my birthday, I had just turned 11. I was biking to school as I had done every day and was unaware of what had happened in New York. There was a woman and her son that I often saw as we crossed the busy road with guidance of the safety patrol. Her young 2nd grader (or was it 1st?) was muttering about how he hoped his grandpa was okay. This kid was a spoiled brat as far as I was concerned, but in an attempt to be charitable (loving), I asked him what he meant. He told me that some kind of explosion had happened in New York and that his grandpa was in the area where it had happened. "What?!" I asked in disbelief. The mother was quite beside herself, puffing away at her cancerettes, she managed to form semi-cohesive sentences to the effect of, " There was a plane crash and an explosion and people are dead or dying and the whole world is in chaos." She turned away from me and walked away.
I was dumbstruck. What she meant? No. Flippin'. Clue. I thought maybe it was some cruel joke, another part of me thought maybe there had been a really bad car crash and a car exploded like in the movies. When I got into class the television was on and everyone was silent except for a few girls who were sniffling and trying to keep their crying to a dull roar. My teacher, one of the most patient and understanding men I've ever known, was quite beside himself although he didn't show it like that crazy mom taking her kid to school. He let us watch for about a half an hour or so, long enough for us to get an idea of what was happening. After that we wrote down how we were feeling, what our thoughts were, and our prayers. I remember half the class kept asking how to spell "Osama Bin Laden" and "Al-Qaeda." At the time I thought Al-Qaeda was a person.
I remember going home; that was pretty much the only thing my family watched. The news. It didn't matter which station since they were all covering the same story, but at the time it was tuned to CNN. I remember eating popcorn while my mom cried as she watched video taken earlier in the day of people thrashing around in the ash and debris dust clouds trying to find their away from the buildings. I remember thinking it was a really sick thing to be eating popcorn while watching that, and my mother was upset because she felt like I was unaware of what was happening. Obviously, she was wrong, and I couldn't have been more aware of what was happening unless I had been there. All I could think of was this attack on the World Trade Center buildings and how much I hated Bin Laden. There was nothing in the world that I wanted more than to see that man die some way that was painful, and televised for all the world to see. I had dreams about him, the World Trade Center buildings, and all kinds of things like that. I also had the song, "Only Time" by Enya stuck in my head thanks to a virulent video that floated around the Internet which really put my mother in a foul mood every time she watched it. It was basically a slide show of horrible images from the attack to the aforementioned song.
Over the years, I feel like people are starting to forget, or at least they're starting to "move on" as if there was anything to move on from. The buildings are gone. GONE! 2,740 Americans obliterated by a single event, not to mention the 236 non-Americans dead, not even half of which were people who were apart of the attack. I understand it if people don't want to be groveling in their sorrow all day today, but honestly if we could take more than 59 seconds to reflect on that day... Reflect on what happened that morning and give thanks to God that we are still alive and that we still remember. We have lost so much from that attack, but also gained so much more. Thinking back to that time, I remember how united we were as a people. I don't think I've ever seen such unity in America as that. I don't think I've ever seen so many nations unified as they were during that time. I remember seeing footage of some young women from Norway (I think) who were just sobbing their eyes out as they trembled and held their vigil candles. I remember seeing large crowds in England gathering, crying, hugging, and just expressing their deepest sadness.
I'm sitting upright in my bed typing this, beginning to feel very emotional as these memories become more vivid to me. I believe this is important. Remembering more than just the deaths, more than just the destruction, but remembering the unity we had. Remember our resolve to "find those bastards" as Former President George W. Bush said. If we forget, we spit on the graves of all those innocent people who died. Regardless of who was behind the attacks, as some still argue there is ambiguity, the fact is that it happened and it was real and what happened afterward was real too. We cannot deny that much without denying reality.
Below are a couple graphics I composed using the image and adding text. If you're easily offended the second picture may strike you as crass.
Never Forgetting, Never Forgiving,