Let me just say that I am aware that this blog is usually one focused on very fictional worlds and that if you feel that in deviating today, that I have overstepped my bounds, I am sorry. The door is that way. Don’t let it hit you on the way out. There are just some days when the real world has to intrude. Today, the 12th anniversary of 9/11, is one of those days.
Twelve years ago, I had just transferred into a new high school and didn’t know a single soul in my new school. That morning, I don’t remember talking to a single person in the cafeteria; no one wanted anything to do with the new kid–not the sophomores because they all knew each other and not the freshmen because they didn’t think they had anything in common with someone a year older than them. Within a few hours, I had spoken to more people than I had in the entire week since school had started. Everyone was asking the same thing, “Can you believe it? It can’t be true, can it?”
Because of my school’s location, it was possible to see the Towers from certain rooms, and in my Italian class my teacher was afraid that people would fall out of the window for leaning too far out to get a look. It was in that class that I found out what had happened. The guy in front of me, a junior, asked me if I had heard about the Twin Towers and when he told me that they were gone, I accused him of trying to pull a joke on the new kid. It was just too much to believe, but it didn’t take too long for me to figure out that he was telling me the truth. From that point on, nothing was the same and would be the same ever again.
That was the day that so many of us lost our innocence. Sure, we had lived through the 1993 WTC attacks, but we were so young at the time that it didn’t really register. This was different. So many of us knew someone, who either worked in the towers or in the area surrounding them. My aunt was only 5 blocks away, my cousin was close too. They both had to walk over the bridge into Brooklyn. My cousin swears that she was on the train underneath the WTC when the first tower went down because there was a loud crashing noise as they passed through it. One of my mom’s friends thought that her brother was in the North Tower and feared that he was dead, but he had decided to stay home that day. There were a lot of people that inexplicably decided not to go into the city that morning and their decision may have saved their lives. I know if I could have stayed home that day, I would have, and I wasn’t anywhere near Lower Manhattan (the boondocks of Queens, for the record).
There are a lot of things about that day and the days after that stick out in my mind, but my favorite happened a week later at a special interfaith memorial at my church. It was organized in part by my brother’s class and the 8th grade and it included readings from The Bible, The Torah, and The Koran because the priests wanted to make a point in saying that what those men did was not a reflection of the Muslim faith. The service also included religious and patriotic songs, and at one point the kids led everyone in a rendition of “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. If you don’t know the song, there is a line that says, “And I will gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today,” and when they got to this part, each and every one of them stood up in their spots. No one knew they were going to do it and by all accounts it was something that they planned on their own. It was so touching, and eventually, the entire congregation was on their feet. If I live to be 100, this is something that I will never forget. It stands out almost as much as the moment I found out about the attack, and I hope that everyone else has a moment like this.