Never Forget, 9/11 as an 11 year old

Today, I woke up planning to work on my novel. Then I saw the date.

September 11, this day is one I can never forget.

15 years ago I woke up on a beautiful September morning, and went downstairs to get breakfast and watch cartoons. My biggest concern was getting my turn on the computer which my little brother was currently using. I was 11 years old.

I watched cartoons while I waited for my mom to get out of the shower. We would be starting school work soon. I remember that the sun was so bright I could hardly see the TV screen. I was sitting super close to it, playing with my Kirsten American Girl doll, when everything changed.
The breaking news sound interrupted my cartoons and the newscasters, looking shaken, announced that there had been an explosion in one of the World Trade Centers, they thought a plane had hit the tower.
I ran into the bathroom to get my mom. She thought a movie had interrupted the cartoons, then she saw the TV. I remember watching her collapse to the floor, tears streaming down her face. I had never seen my mother show fear, worry, but never fear.

My world slipped sideways as I looked between the flames, smoke and my crying mother. She tried to explain to me the scale of what I was seeing. I could not grasp it. How could anyone do that? Only bad guys did things like this. The conclusion my innocent mind reached was that bad guys were real. That was the scariest moment of my young life, until that moment life had been safe, warm and good.

We frantically scrambled to reach my dad on the phone, he was working that day. The phone lines were jammed. I remember the relief when we reached him. The rest of that day is mostly a blur, but I remember the clear, beautiful, cheerful sunshine. I remember how the beams of light from our skylights danced across the horror on the TV. I remember the images of people falling and jumping from the towers. I remember the collapse. I remember Flight 93 and the smoking crater in a Pennsylvania field, a field that looked like the ones near my house.

I remember asking my parents soon after if this meant we would go to war. They said we might. I remember the fear that shot through me. I had learned about war in my history books. I had seen the pictures from Vietnam, from the World Wars, had learned about wars ancient and modern, they scared me.
I pictured my wonderful family looking like the people in pictures of the great depression and all because some bad guys decided to kill a bunch of people just going to work. But mostly, I was afraid of the hatred I’d seen in those attacks. I didn’t understand hatred. Why bother to hate people? It didn’t make any sense to me as an 11 year old…it still doesn’t, hate takes too much effort, effort that could be spent on happiness and life.

I’ll never forget that day. I did not lose anyone. I know people who did, I have met people who were engulfed in the toxic cloud that followed. Not a day goes by that those events are not in my heart.

As I sit here listening to the 9/11 ceremony live from NYC I cry and I read their stories. The ones who died, the ones who are left. They are forever in my heart. They may be gone, but they are not forgotten.

Thanks to GLady on Pixabay for this beautiful image.

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