Where were you?

There’s this song called “Where were you when the world stopped turning,” and every time I hear it I choke up….

I can’t believe there are 11 year olds out there who have never seen a time when both twin towers stood. It’s hard to even fathom that a historical disaster like that stands so clear in my mind, and yet there are people in this world who have never known a world without it. There are children who grew up in the aftermath of 9/11 and were born into America’s War on Terror. Meanwhile, I look to all of my peers today as we all answer the unasked question of “where were you 9/11” No one is asking us that question…and yet, there we all are answering it as if it’s an expectation or right of passage that we are old enough to remember that moment in history.

I stand in the middle here trying to decide if I’m happy I remember or if I wish I never experienced it. Sometimes I think it would be better to be born after that fateful day in American history–to have not seen the live news feed as the second tower was hit. To some students today that moment is like any other in their textbooks–history. Part of the past. Sure it happened within the last two decades, but it was before their time and hence it is not their past.

But it is my past. It has shaped the world I live in as well as the worldview I hold. My sense of country, respect, honor, loyalty and pride in America, my country, took ahold of me that day. I was young. I was 12 years old. That was half a lifetime ago for me. I can’t say with confidence that in that moment I knew exactly what that day would mean in history as time passed, but I knew it would mean something. Everyone knew it meant something. What did it mean?

Looking back now I think that day represents different things to each person that experienced it. To some, it was a reminder of the fragility of life. Others, a reminder of the brutal world we live in. I remember a lot from the news that day and the years following. I remember names of attackers, death tolls, and images that will be forever burned into my mind….but what I remember most clearly are the heroes of that day. The civilians in the offices leading coworkers out of the building. The firefighters risking their lives to save people from the rubble. The soldiers fighting to protect us. The passengers on the flight that was meant for DC. I remember bravery. So today rather than hating the people that caused it, questioning God as to why it happened, and judging the politics around it, I will instead remember the bravery of the country that came together to respond to great tragedy.

I was asleep in my bed and awoken by my Mother after the first tower was hit. I remember watching the tv closely as my Mom explained the gravity of what was unfolding. I was in my home, watching TV with my mom and sister. That’s where I was when America fell only to rise back stronger than ever. And as I feel that sense of pride deep inside my heart and soul, I realize that this grave event is in my past, present and future. And you know what, I am very proud to be an American.


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