On the day of the dreadful attack, I was actually only four years old. It was probably a normal day for me; I was either coloring in preschool or sitting at home, getting ready. I remember my mother staring at the TV screen, a look of worry on her face. Not a bad thought crossed my mind. My little four-year-old self concluded that she was just watching the news, since all of the "bad stuff was reported on there."
I went to school, the concerned looks and pounding hearts passing me by. The loss of breath, that sinking feeling, that sense of the end of the world...I felt none of it. I noticed none of it. It all went over my head. Besides the teachers quietly discussing the dark, terrible attack in the corner of the colorful, light classroom, nobody said anything to me.
I went through first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and so on without any knowledge on the subject. Our schools were protecting our innocence, it seems. We didn't study it nor did the teachers utter a word about it to us children.
I remember the first time I'd heard of it. I was in sixth grade (a couple years ago), and a couple of boys were talking about a strange event they referred to as "9/11." Eventually, a bunch of people around me joined into the conversation. It was a terrorist attack of the past, I finally concluded, having no idea it was just a mere seven years ago at that time. Then I wiped it out of my mind, never hearing of it again until later that year.
I finally looked it up on the computer, and found out that it was only a few years ago. The whole world was in a panic, and I never noticed. Such innocence was shattered that day; the sinking feeling, the concern, the pounding in my chest caught up with me. I remember being shaky and thankful that I was alive. I had heard of terrorists and was deathly afraid of them, and on top of that I was afraid of death. I was just as shocked as everyone was that day nine years ago. My computer was an apartment window; my eleven-year-old self was an adult looking onto the buildings collapsing onto each other like the breaking relationships between the US and these extremists; I saw the people jumping from the buildings to avoid the flames, pushed to their last choices, their last instincts.
Now that I'm older, I've done many research projects and reflections on 9/11 and the works that were influenced by it; I know all about the attack, I know the conspiracy theories, I know the fear that those people felt.
But I didn't feel as broken as they did. Their hearts broke with the towers of their city, their hopes broke for their loved ones. Was John in there? Did Jane just die? Please, someone save James! I have heard of the "Wanted" posters: We're looking for Bob, with any information call this number. They were looking for peace, they were looking for assurance. And they got nothing. They were broken.
I was broken that day I found out, I was just numb. My innocence was broken. But I can see the world for what it is now. I can't complain for my loss. I can only pray for the families that were affected by this attack. I can keep my faith in America, and I can only hope for our broken relationships. I can hope for the repair of the world. And I know that we can rebuild what we've lost. We are no longer at Ground Zero. For me, this was a new beginning. The way we survived this was our victory; their only partial success was their loss.
We can rise from these ashes.