September 11th is a day in history that we will always remember. It was a day that will remain etched in our minds for eternity. For many of us, we can remember the exact place we were when we found out the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It was at that moment that we knew our lives had changed forever.
I was a sophomore in high school, just old enough to know what was going, but young enough to still be naive to the horrible human beings out there in this world. It was Biology and we were working on an assignment in class. My teacher was out in the back room on her computer and came back in and said ‘A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. I think someone is trying to kill the president’ and began laughing. We all just thought it was a freak accident, completely unaware about what had just happened on our own soil. It was a little bit later that morning that we heard about the second plane, as well as the Pentagon and just how real this was. At lunch, everyone was chattering about the events that had taken place. Many joked that this was about the President, while many were worried if there identities were now gone because the Pentagon had been hit (remember, we were all just 14 and 15 years old and still pretty unaware of how the world and the government worked). All in all, we were all nervous, worried and scared.
In my World Literature class, we discovered that one of our classmate’s brothers was supposed to be working at the World Trade Center that day. No one could get a hold of him in her family. In a time when we were nervous and just wanted to be home with our families, we found ourselves consoling her. Just a small example of how such a tragedy has the capability to bring a group of people together. In the end, it turns out he had been traveling out of state on business. In history that day, I asked my teacher if we were going to be holding class. He looked at me and said ‘Eryn, you’re living history right before your eyes.’ We sat in our classroom, with another classroom from next door and listened to the radio about what had transpired that day.
None of us truly realized how much our lives had just changed.
At 19, I traveled to New York City with my father’s 8th grade class that year. It was the first time I had stepped foot in NYC since the attacks, and we had the privilege of visiting Ground Zero. It was still in the excavation process and the damage to the surrounding buildings was still quite evident. The flag and the cross that were discovered and hung on the days following the attack, still stood where it had first been placed. Seeing Ground Zero in person was both humbling and eerie. Seeing the giant hole in the ground where those towers once stood and knowing how many people lost their lives was just an indescribable feeling. At the same time, I felt like I was standing on sacred ground.
Here we are, 10 years later, still fighting the War on Terrorism, still fighting those same terrorists that attacked our people on our own soil. But in the last ten years, the wounds have healed and we have began to rebuild. We will always remember the lives lost that day and all the lives lost in the war that followed. But if nothing else, the attacks on September 11th, 2001 have made us as Americans stronger.
In honor of 9/11, a Field of Honor was set up on our local pond. Each flag was dedicated to someone. It’s a place to remember and place to reflect. But also a place to recognize all those people who dedicated their lives to keeping us safe.
So to those who have lost their lives fighting for our country
(and to those who still continue to fight or have fought)
And to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001
We will never forget.