I can’t believe 10 years have passed since the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2001, it was hard to accept the United States was attacked by 19 hijackers affiliated with the terrorist organization, al-Qaida, who did so much damage, so close to home.
I was 10 years old, sitting in a classroom in Ridgewood, N.J. about 25 minutes from the World Trade Center when I was called down to the principal’s office the morning of Sept. 11. It’s not every day you get taken out of class, so I knew something bad had to have happened. I couldn’t guess what was wrong.
It wasn’t until I was picked up from school that I discovered it wasn’t my family, but my country in trouble. Our country was under attack. Unlike the majority of my classmates, I was able to watch the tragedy unfold on TV. When I got home, there were only two channels running to keep the tri-state citizens informed.
I can’t describe the feeling of watching the Twin Towers fall. What I can say is that the images never cease to haunt me.
It was heartbreaking to see people jumping from the burning buildings before the Twin Towers fell and the people running for their lives as the smoke and debris flooded the streets. Every time I talk about 9/11 in class or see something on TV or the internet, I get the chills. I did not lose any immediate family, but the majority of people in my town of approximately 25,000 knew someone who lost a loved one because of our proximity to New York City.
This is the shortened version of my story. But after 10 years, the anniversary of 9/11 should not be about me or you. This Sunday should be about remembering the innocent lives that were unexpectedly taken on that day 10 years ago.
It was wonderful to see the country come together so fast after the loss of 2,819 lives in the tragedy. All across America, you could walk down a street and feel the patriotism. You could see American flags waving in the wind, “God Bless the Troops” bumper stickers on cars and yellow ribbons tied to trees and telephone poles for men and women serving in the military.
However, after the country came together so fast, the support hit a peak and started to slowly dwindle as time passed. Once the cleanup began at Ground Zero and other events started to make the news, the rest of the country became distracted and moved on. A year after 9/11, you could tell the rest of the country had moved on while the Northeast was still trying to pick up the broken pieces.
It’s understandable that whenever a tragedy happens, the surrounding area that is directly affected takes longer to emotionally and physically rebuild.
I’m one of those people who haven’t forgotten 9/11 and never will. Despite the fact that I’m about 1,700 miles away from home and the National Sept. 11 Memorial, I am still going to go above and beyond to pay my respects to the people who lost their lives.
I strongly encourage you to attend the 9/11 vigil on campus this Sunday and pay your respects.
The families who lost their loved ones might not directly know who you are, but knowing that there are people all over the country commemorating and praying for them means the world. To have one nation come together after all this time overcomes the evil and hatred that caused so much pain on that day 10 years ago.