I was just nine years old, only a child when it happened. We were walking back from either music or gym class, one of the two at least, when I spotted a group of teachers huddled in a corner. I heard one of them mention that there had been a plane crash. I didn't take it seriously, thinking that it had just affected one of them and nobody else.
I came home that afternoon to the TV broadcasting news footage of the attack non-stop; I think my parents left it on pretty much all day and even well into the nighttime. I vaguely recall watching replays of buildings collapsing and hearing people scream.
At one point I turned my Dad and asked innocently enough, "why did somebody do this?"
"Well Al, they just don't like the United States"
I didn't understand it. The following days and weeks were all a blur to me; I just couldn't grasp the severity of the situation. George Bush was constantly addressing crowds of people and telling them that the attackers would be caught and punished. MTV played music videos in memory of those that lost their lives and Mariah Carey's "Hero" seemed to be on repeat.
We talked a little bit about it in school; I often said how I couldn't decide which was worse, September eleventh or Pearl Harbor? The only thing I knew about Pearl Harbor was that a naval base had been bombed by a foreign country a very long time ago.
I wanted to cry and grieve like everyone else, but the tears weren't there.
Only when I got a little older did I begin to fully comprehend just how much this tragedy impacted our country. I read several books where peopled discussed with such honesty about the horrors they witnessed that day.
I realized just how much hatred there is in our world today; for someone to drive a plane into a building, both filled with innocent people. And the fact that it was multiple planes, multiple buildings, millions of people dead? The idea even today is still unimaginable.
My brother once wrote something for his third grade class for a program they were putting on at the time. I can't remember the whole thing, but there was a line that said "we will stand tall until peace is brought again."
In the last ten years since it happened, has there been peace? In some cases, maybe. It seems like we're trying to move forward, but end up taking so many giant steps backward: there's still very many stereotypes regarding those in the Middle East, as well as those of Middle Eastern descent. We're still in two wars that no one seems to know why we're fighting anymore. I could go on.
But the bigger question is, will we ever know what peace is? Will there ever be a generation living without violence, ignorance or hatred? I ask that because this is what the last ten years have stemmed from.
Ten years ago, I didn't cry. Now as I read the University newspaper, I feel like I finally understand enough to do so.