As we approach Sept. 11, we all have an opportunity to reflect on that tragic day in 2001. Being in first grade, experts have said I am the youngest age group that will remember this tragedy. With this being said, do you remember where you were on that devastating day? How did you find out? I want to take this time to share my memory with you, in hopes to spark your memory so you can reflect, too.
As a first grader, I woke up on Sept. 11, 2001, just like everyone else. The next thing I remember, my teacher turned on the TV in a panic. Watching the screen filled with smoking buildings and utter chaos, I remember thinking that a pilot had accidentally wrecked into a tall building in New York City.
I knew it was sad, but in a first grader’s mind, I didn’t see the big picture. What happened in the next hour was a blur. We were all gathered and rushed to the cafeteria and instructed to sit and wait for our parents to come get us. I remember parents coming in and hugging their children, crying. Then there were people like me, whose parents didn’t come. My mom later told me she thought it would be safer for me to stay. The day got cut short, and the buses soon brought us home.
When I got home, I remember my grandma and mom explaining to me what had happened. They explained that this, in fact, wasn’t an accident. They told me that bad people were trying to hurt the country that keeps us free. I remember going to bed afraid. Though my mom assured me that everything would be OK, I was still scared. I remember my mom keeping the paper from Sept. 12, 2001—the front page saying, “An act of evil.” For a 7-year-old, all of this was confusing, upsetting and terrifying. I didn’t know what would come of the country that I called mine.
Fast-forward to 2014. Though our country is far from perfect, we’ve made so much progress since 2001. Not only did we prove to the rest of the world that the U.S. will never surrender or falter to terror, we demonstrated remembrance for the lives lost.
People of all races, ages, backgrounds and cultures came together to support the fallen heroes. Between the firefighters, airplane passengers and crew, bystanders, and the innocent people working in the Towers, we all mourned together. We improved airport security to protect our loved ones and ourselves, we gained a new sense of American pride. We continue to protect our precious land with dignity and honor. I hope you can also reflect on that tragic day in 2001 to consider the meaning of what it means to be a proud American.
Skyler Chill is a sophomore organizational communication major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]