Friday, September 11, 2009

...and then my principal came over the speaker and told us what happend

When I was little my mom would always tell us that two terribly tragic things would inevitably happen to us: 1. We would experience a death of a friend in high school. 2. Something so big would happen in our lifetime that we would remember every single moment of where we were, whom we were with, and how we felt at the exact moment we heard the news. She always told us about her two friends in high school who accidentally died while sitting in their running car outside their house in the winter. And she always told us about the day John F. Kennedy died. While I always was interested in hearing my parent’s stories, I sort of brushed her warnings off as “that would never happen to me.”

Obviously, mom is always right. I did end up experiencing the loss of a friend in high school to suicide and one to a tragic accident. I also experienced the latter of my mom’s predictions.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 I was sitting in my 2nd period typing class in my freshman year attending a high school on Long Island, not too far from NYC. One of the students in our class said, “Did you hear that a plane just crashed into one of the twin towers?” I immediately pictured some small crop plane that crashed into the building causing very little damage to the building and more damage to the plane. I also remembered that a week or so earlier, a man had thought it was a good idea to parachute into NYC and got stuck on the Statue of Liberty. “What an idiot!” I thought. “How did some idiot in a little plane not see the twin towers!” Never in a million years would I have pictured what was actually going on. Just then our principal came on the loud speaker to announce the reality of what had just happened. Panic and silence came over our classroom. Many of the kids in my class had parents that worked in Manhattan and some that worked in the World Trade Center. It seemed like almost every person knew someone who could have been there. I remember walking to lunch with my friend, Amanda, as we tried to get in touch with her mom. Her father was supposed to be flying out of LaGuardia to LAX that day. We still hadn’t heard where the plane had come from and we were all holding our breath waiting to hear from our loved ones. Lunch was a blur. I just remember sitting there watching frantic mothers running through the cafeteria and halls trying to find their kids. I remember kids crying in the hallways and crying in class. I remember my best friend Danielle pulling me out of my Spanish class because she needed someone to talk to about her fears that a close family friend had not been heard from yet. I remember coming home to see the first clips of what was going on on TV and my frantic mother making phone calls to all of the Elementary School kids' parents since our district announced that no Elementary School child would be allowed to go home unless a parent could greet them at the bus stop. I remember driving over the Robert Moses Bridge and being able to see the cloud of smoke sitting over the island of Manhattan.

Every once in a while in a social situation the topic of 9/11 comes up and we all sit back and remember exactly where we were, who we were with, and most importantly, how it made us feel. For the first time in my life on that day I realized that I did not live in the little safety bubble that I thought I had been in my whole life. I realized that I should not take life for granted. I learned what it means to be proud to be an American. I saw for the first time the power of a community coming together. And most importantly, I learned that my mom is always right.

Thank you to all of our service men and women all over the world. My prayers are with you, with my friend Matt Reed who was just deployed to Iraq last week, with his girlfriend and my bff Rana who misses him terribly,

with the rest of the families whose sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, cousins, friends… all serve our country, and with all those who lost someone on 9/11. God bless you.

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