September 11, 2016


I have a big confession to make: when people always start asking, "where were you when 9/11 happened?" I have to say that I was being a brat. I was ten, in fifth grade. It happened right before the bell, and as I transferred to my next class, a classmate who sometimes annoyed me said something about the twin towers falling and I responded: I don't care. I didn't know what that meant. I learned a little in my next class but still didn't comprehend - I was even a bit of a brat that night when my mom stood on the porch with a lit candle for a moment of silence because I really wanted to go inside and I didn't understand.

But over the following weeks, I understood. The gravity of the situation took a toll on my little body as I saw news reports and discussed the incident in class. I even wrote this poem that I laugh about to this day because it was actually pretty good, and I pressed my teacher to let me read it to the class for months (which was out of character for me) - and when she finally said there was time to read it on a given day... I had lost it and wrote a new one... which was accidentally highly influenced (plagiarized, before I knew the meaning of the word) from a popular country song and I think everyone knew it because everyone at my school wore camouflage and gave weird looks when I read my original work.

9/11 is still highly influential for me today; in fact, I might even go so far to say it was a turning point for me, to start caring about what happens to people I've never met instead of just myself and those close to me. To the point that I don't just care about the nearly 3,000 that died on that day, the 1,000+ families that have never received any biological confirmation of death, or the 6,000+ injured. My empathy stretches across oceans and to the million+ that have died in the alleged "War on Terror" since... innocent lives. Children. Good, ordinary people like you and me who happen to have been born in another country and were in the wrong place at the wrong time, who had no responsibility for the terrorism that took place on our own soil.

Let's not forget the gravity of these events, now or ever. And while what happened to us is horrific, our country holds responsibility for many of the issues presently happening in the Middle East, regardless of your political leaning. I hope that one day our world will find some equilibrium.

Before I sign off here from what I'm sure will be an unwanted/uncomfortable rant for some readers, I do want to thank the responders of 9/11. Without many of the service men and women that went to work (or volunteered!) that day, I'm sure our death toll would be far higher. And regardless of whether or not I agree with all of the decisions made by our government's military, I do appreciate and thank our soldiers for carrying out duties their country assigned them. My own brother was one of them, and I'm very fortunate to have him home safe.

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