Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Remember

I know that almost everyone with an active social media page will address what happened ten years ago today. It's impossible not to notice it, not to talk about it, not remember exactly where you were that day.

I was in Mrs. Globel's fourth grade classroom in Florida. All I remember is another teacher coming in from the planning room and telling Mrs. Globel that she had to turn on the news. I don't know what I thought, or even if I noticed anything was wrong. Even knowing I was little and rightfully should have been oblivious, it still feels like I should have understood what that day was going to mean to everyone.

We tuned in just in time to hear an announcer say that a second plane had just hit the twin towers. They, I believe, were freeze framing their footage and zooming in to show the plane. My class watched in the dark with mirrored expressions of horror and tears at least until the second tower fell. I can't remember what happened for the rest of the day. I know I wanted my parents to come get me. My mom worked as a lab tech in a hospital, my dad worked for an airline or a company that supplied airline parts. Some kids got taken home and I remember being so jealous that I wasn't. I didn't know that my parents had wanted me to stay in school that day because they thought I would be safest there. No one in their right mind would attack a school, it was inconceivable.

At that time, even though New York was the only place we knew of that was targeted, it felt like nowhere was safe. If they could devastate New York, what was stopping these people from hurting everyone else? I didn't know where on the map New York was, I had no idea what the pentagon or the twin towers being attacked meant. The only thing I knew, the only thing I saw, was planes crashing into buildings. My little fourth grade mind could not comprehend the fact that people were in there. People were being killed. Loved ones weren't coming home that night. I was not able to understand. It seemed too cruel, heartless and deliberate to know that  planes carrying people were smashing into buildings where other people worked. It literally did not compute.

The days after are a blur. I know my school did some things to help. Kids with family in New York who'd been affected were encouraged to wear red, white and blue ribbons on pins. I think we were told to hug people with the ribbons. I remember a tree being planted with more patriotic ribbons attached to it. I can see a school wide fund raiser for school supplies. It never really hit home for me how we were affected, being so far from the real damage, until a few weeks later.

I got pixie sticks (pretty much pure sugar) from a candy machine in Cici's pizza one night a couple weeks after. I remember being worried that the white powder inside would make me sick. I didn't know it at the time, but with all the hysteria about white powder and chemical warfare, I thought there was anthrax in my pixie sticks. I did not want to eat them, touch them or even look at them. A very nice couple who was baby sitting me at the time worried about me. After a lot of reassurances and encouragement, I ate the pixie sticks, still convinced I would get sick and die. But, I wanted to be polite and eat all the candy the people had bought for me. (I was a weird kid, eating things I thought poisonous to be courteous.) It was entirely normal, if not expected and completely logical to think that I would be killed by pixie sticks.

At that time we felt like there was no other way to live than in paranoia. I developed a completely new vocabulary in the span of weeks. Al Qaeda, terrorists, suicide bomber, Osama Bin Laden, all of these things spun around in my head constantly. We were waiting for the other shoe to drop. We were waiting for another place to be attacked. We were all waiting for someone to say it was a colossal and horrible joke that had no real consequences and everyone could go back to normal now.

Eventually and sadly everyone did start going back to normal. Not everyone was so careful anymore. People who didn't live in New York went days at a time without remembering what happened. The tragedy which had left us raw became a scar of survival. We had taken a hit, but the important thing was, we were still standing and united as one nation. Now, ten years later we have destroyed the person chiefly responsible for attacking us. Ten years later children born on 9/11 are living happy lives. Ten years later the people who were lost that day are still honored. Ten years later we're still standing united. Ten years later and we still promise to remember what happened and never forget it. Ten years later we're still telling stories about it.


Click here to read Meg Cabot's post about her experience with 9/11 living only a few blocks from the towers. (Spoiler: It will make you cry.)


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. We can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to be a child on that day -- we were in our teens and twenties, we could understand, and it was still scary. But in a different way.

    That badge/graphic at the end is great, btw.

  2. Thank you, I think 9/11 was terrifying for any person, not matter their age.

    Yes, google came to my rescue again, I looked for 9/11 ten years later on images I believe.


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