I was eight years old. Do you think anything that happened that day meant anything to me? No, not at the time. But that single day has changed my life.
It was a month into my third grade year, and I was in love. I had managed to escape the teachers I had wanted to avoid, I had special privileges in the library, and I was being entered into the gifted program. What could be better for a third grader?
We had just finished our lesson on multiplication tables when my school guidance counselor entered the classroom crying.
"Turn on your television, Linda." My teacher promptly turned on her set-a large, boxy number mounted on the wall-and immediately understood. She was unable to speak; she only placed her hand over her open mouth and soundlessly cried.
I ignored my work, choosing instead to watch the disaster occurring in an unimaginable place. I was disconnected from the events, just as I assume my other classmates were. We hadn't a clue where it was taking place, or even the gravity of the situation. We simply watched the second plane hit and the towers fall as if it were our usual Saturday morning cartoons. We had no idea that there were people in those planes or towers or streets. We had no idea that lives were being lost. We didn't know that day would follow us for the rest of our lives, transforming our country, our world.
Then, our principal came in, announcing that our school was on lock down. We were to remain in our classrooms and no one was to leave the school; They feared an attack on Oak Ridge, the near-by nuclear facility that developed the Manhattan Project, or the first atomic bomb. Mrs. Branham truned off the television and we resumed our work.
I don't remember much of what happened after that time; it held little significance. I do, however, remember the side effects of the attacks.
Four years after the event, my seventh grade class took a week-long trip to New York. We did many things, but that which I remember the most was when we went and viewed the September 11, 2001, memorial. I read the names of all those lost in the tragedy, I saw just how many people lost their lives. And I cried. We all cried. We cried for those that died, we cried for their families, we cried for the armed forces that were deployed after the attack, we cried for those in the Middle East who are still feeling the effect of those extremist groups, we cried for our ignorance, we cried for the world, we cried for ourselves.
And I still find myself crying for those who committed the attacks and the hate that they were capable of.