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[personal profile] keitanketsueki
September 11, 2001 started out as a normal day; I was listening to the radio in my bedroom while getting ready for school.  I was thirteen, in the first month of eighth grade, and felt grown up and mature.  My brother, sister, and mom were also getting ready.  Mom had mentioned either the night before or that morning that she had to fly to Reno for work.  As I got dressed, I think a song I liked was interrupted on the radio.  The station I listened to at the time (I don't even remember what station it was) had a habit of playing bad pranks in the morning, so at first I thought their talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center was another awful prank.

My little brother had turned on the TV and told me it was real.  He was a very upbeat kid at eleven, and was usually very hyper in the mornings.  It struck me how somber he was when he told me.  And how could a plane have accidentally flown into one of the Twin Towers?  So I followed him in to see the news.  He was right.  It was true.  But it wasn't an accident.  I walked over and told my mom, but her response is lost in my memory.  I was kind of numb then, and scared.

Someone-- it could have been Mom or the news anchor-- said that the world wasn't over; as scared as we all were, we had to go about our business.  I think I asked mom if she was keeping us home from school.  If I did, she said no.

In my eighteen (going on nineteen now) years of school, there has never been a day like that.  When my brother and I got to school, we were early.  Sitting out in the quad before school, two girls were making fun, making light of what was happening.  A teacher (perhaps my choir teacher) overheard them and told them that such behaviour was not acceptable.

I think she lost someone she knew in the attacks.

That whole day, I don't think I learned anything.  Everyone was watching the events unfold on TV.  I watched in numb horror as the second plane hit, heard that another plane had hit the Pentagon.  I watched with my classmates and teachers as people in the Twin Towers decided that they preferred to jump from the windows than die slowly inside.  We listened and watched in silence as we heard that another plane had gone down in Pennsylvania.  There was a terrible feeling in my chest when I looked at one of the Towers.  Before I could voice my thought and say I thought it was going to fall, it did.

I think that it took ten minutes for the fact that everyone in the building had just died to penetrate my brain.  Thousands of people had just died and I was sitting in my classroom doing nothing but watching and crying.

I wanted desperately to go and lend my support, to go and help dig through the rubble and find survivors.

Later I learned that a local teacher from Palo Verde high school, Barbara G Edwards, died in American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon.

I remember being utterly terrified that Mom would have to fly the next day to Reno and that her flight would be hijacked.  I was selfishly relieved when all flights were grounded.  I knew and understood that there were people stranded in places other than their destinations, maybe even a country where they didn't speak the language, but for as long as planes were grounded, maybe such horrible, senseless violence couldn't happen again.

That night I cried for the lives lost to terrorism.  I prayed that someone needed more than me- a mother, a father, a best friend, a mentor, a child- would be miraculously found alive, and if it took my life in trade, I was happy to do it.

To this day I don't understand the use of violence, murdering so many people just to make a point.  I don't understand war, or hate, or causing pain to another, but I wanted so badly to be able to go back a few days and hurt the terrorists behind the attacks.  I still wish I could go back and stop them in such a way that national security would be heightened, but no one dies.

This morning, my sister and I were talking about that morning.  She was just nine years old at the time.  Her teachers were all watching the live coverage too.  When she saw someone jump out the window, it made her sick.  At her age, you don't understand having to choose between a slow death by fire and smoke or an instantaneous death after a sickening, terrifying fall from great height.  Even at thirteen I didn't really understand it.

So much has happened in the ten years since the heartbreaking attacks on this country.  Lives have gone on, lives have ended, lives have begun.

Children born the day of the attack are now older than my little sister was when she witnessed them.  They don't remember seeing the towers fall as it happened.  They don't know the feeling of terror that the same thing might happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.  I so clearly remember the fear I felt the first time I saw a plane overhead when flights were resumed, the fear I still feel every time a plane flies low overhead.  I hope and pray they never do understand or feel that fear.

My family went to Washington, DC in December of 2002.  As we landed there and took off to leave, I remember silently praying that we get where we were going safely.  I remember random moments of fear in DC when we toured government buildings, imagining what might be coming if terrorists chose to attack again.  Mom literally just told me she e-mailed a friend before we left and asked if it was safe to go after the DC Sniper attacks (We were going to go in October; he said it was not safe.)  If our own streets weren't safe from something like this, I remember thinking to myself, how can we stop any sort of terrorist attack?

It strikes me as somehow poignant and symbolic that the tenth anniversary falls on a Sunday.  I plan to spend tomorrow remembering, researching the people who died in the attacks.  We are singing exclusively patriotic hymns in church.  Usually you're only supposed to do one or two, but I think such a day deserves an exception.

On of our lectors lost someone close to her in the attacks.  During the one year anniversary mass, as she read the prayers and rememberances for those killed, her voice broke and she couldn't finish for crying so hard.
There is no person in the country, I think, who was not affected by the terrorist attacks ten years ago, be it directly, as were the people whose daughter, son, husband, wife, life partner, child, spouse, friend, parent, relative was murdered or students who lost their teacher Barbara G Edwards; or indirectly, as were the children who watched the news in school and saw people have to make the worst, most horrible decision between a slow death or a quick one.

Within a day or so of the attacks, I heard a story.  Maybe it's a fictional anecdote, maybe it's true, but there is a lot to be learned from it: After the planes hit the Twin Towers and before they fell, people went and offered help search for survivors, rescue those in the buildings and help the injured.  There were firefighters, police officers, EMTs, doctors, nurses, military, civillian, people off the street.  But it wasn't until a dentist came and offered his services to help identify people--the dead-- that it struck them that in the end, the mission might be more recovery than rescue.

If we don't believe in the goodness of humanity, we are lost.  We must band together, not only as a country, but as human beingsWe cannot continue to perpetrate violence against each other.  We need to help each other, be kind to each other, and work together to bring about peace, an end to war.  If we continue to hurt each other like this, we are doomed.

Please take a moment to think of those who died, those who survived, and those who helped others on September 11, 2001.  Please take a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to those who lost someone in the attacks.  Please thank members of the Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice.  Say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Sing the National Anthem.  Never Forget.

A list of those killed in the attacks, as well as memorial pages, is here.
Pauley Perrette posted a painting by Michael Foulkrod of his view on September 10, 2001 here.

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