Remembering 9/11

11 Sep

I was in art class in 7th grade on 9/11. I had just finished a project of my dream room that looked like a red, white and blue version of Austin Powers’ Bachelor pad (can I get a YEAH BABY). The room had a wall full of platform shoes and curvy shaped flowers all over everything. Whenever a project was completed in art, I was bursting with excitement because that meant it would soon go up on display in the halls for everyone to see. As I put my tempera paint masterpiece on the drying rack, our principal, Dr. Root made an announcement that made no sense to me at the time.

Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center? Why is everyone going home? It’s in New York City, Cleveland is pretty far for that to be a threat-but why is that a threat? Art ended shortly after the announcement and the timing between classes gave all of us at Rocky River Middle School a chance to shuffle to our next class in a daze, processing what we had just been told.

As I got to math class, people were starting to worry-some had relatives who live in New York, others just realizing how many people were in danger. Frazzled moms and dads were coming to get my confused and scared classmates one by one-a math problem was partially complete as my teacher quit solving it to watch CNN. My class was dwindling as we watched the towers go from smoking and standing to a rocket of dust headed to the ground, far below. My dad has always been very (VERY) involved with politics and was also very serious about my education-So I was shocked when even he came to pick me up from school that day. Another plane crashes. Then another. I hear “terrorist attack” for the first time-and I don’t think twice about it being a major buzzword in the US news for the next 14+ years.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 9.19.49 AM

A rainbow forms where the WTC used to be on 9/10/15

Days moved on and the full effect of 9/11 came to me in waves. Confusion over what was happening was followed by terror that it could happen again. I probably wasn’t alone with the realization that planes were no longer a safe mode of transportation, because you were still pretty helpless at 30,000 feet-but now it wasn’t safe for different reasons involving “bad people”. The most memorable emotion was the sadness I felt for all of the innocent people who lost their lives, which is still a prominent feeling that I hold today, 14 years later.

On 9/11 for the first time I felt what it was like to have true compassion for those whose lives changed so suddenly on an ordinary Tuesday. Today, I reflect on those same families, remembering the tragedy that shook us but also gave us the incredible reminder that we all have compassion in common.

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