It’s been 14 years to the day… 14 years since the tragedy of 9/11.
I remember where I was when the attacks happened, as many people do. At the time, I was only 10 years old. I was in my elementary school, sitting in class, when my teacher got a call and turned on the TV. I remember being frightened, but not for the reason you would expect. I was frightened because my teacher looked so sad. I was frightened that a plane would crash near me (even though, at the time, I was living in Florida). I was frightened because I didn’t understand what it meant. I was also very confused. I didn’t understand why everyone was so upset over a plane crash. I didn’t know what a terrorist was. I didn’t know why people were saying we would soon be at war. I didn’t know what made this crash different from any others that had ever happened.
But, even at the young age of 10, I knew that what had happened was significant and tragic. I knew that, for some reason, my teacher kept saying “this will be in text books one day. One day you will be learning about this. Remember this.” I knew that many lives had been lost over a terrible crime. I knew that, as the morning progressed, it just kept getting worse and worse, and more planes were getting hijacked, and more people were dying, and I knew that it was a day I would never forget. And I never have.
We remember where we were on that day because it was so monumental. Because it changed history. Because it was history in the making.
A lot has happened in 14 years in this country. We caught Bin Laden. We went to war. We brought many of those troops back. There has been a lot of confusion over the true purpose of that war and whether it was a mistake or not. There has been a lot of upheaval in our own country. We have seen change- both good and bad. But one thing that has stayed the same is that we never forgot. We never forgot that when tragedy strikes in America, we will rise up stronger and face the challenge. We never forgot that when someone tries to bring us down, we stand up for what is right and we speak out and we make sure we are heard. We never forgot the many lives that were lost, and we never stopped mourning for them. We never forgot the heroes, who gave up their lives in order to rescue others. We never forgot. And we never will.
I live in NYC now, and the city has rebuilt itself. We have the Freedom Tower, as well as the countless memorials and museums commemorating that day. The businesses in the area have risen up again and the community has thrived. We grew back, stronger than we were before. But we still remember.
Tonight, when I look up at the sky in NYC, I will see the two bright pillars of light in Wall Street, reminding us of what once was. And I will take a moment and remember those we lost on that day. I hope you all will do the same, no matter where you are.