9/11, a dark and painful moment for many. Where were you that day of the attack? Did it change your life? How did you rise from it? Tell me. Let your voice be heard.
Where was I?
I remember being at school. Siting on my little chair, doing a math test that my teacher gave me. I think I was annoyed while doing the test, because I noticed some kid next to me trying to cheat off my test. I was like, really? Minutes past, I was almost done with the test, and suddenly I hear the principal talking through the school’s intercom system calling all the teachers for an urgent meeting. So the teacher asked us to stay quiet and finish our math test while she was gone. We finished our math test, but we didn’t stay quiet. “Fun time”, a kid yelled. But the fun didn’t last long. Our teacher came back, but she came back all teary eyed, and shocked like something horrible just happened. The class asked her, “What’s wrong, Ms. Candieles?” She responded: “Kids, pack your belongings, because your parents are coming to pick you up.” Was it a early dismissal day? I thought to myself. I didn’t have a clue to what was going on. But hey, I wasn’t going to complain. Less school! I packed my bag, and went outside to the waiting area where parents picked up their kids. I waited outside for either my mom or dad to pick me up. A minute or two passed, and I saw my parent’s car pulling up to the school’s curve, and it was my dad. I opened the door, and got in. Gave my dad a hug. While driving back home, I noticed my dad had the same facial expression that my teacher had, and I noticed that he was in a hurry to get home. So I asked, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He responded, ” The World Trade Center has been attacked.” I didn’t have the slightest clue on what that was, so I was like: “What’s that?” My dad, “You know those tall twin towers in New York City.” “Yeah,” I said.”Well, they were hit by planes on purpose, and many people are hurt.” I was seven at the time, so you could say my innocence kicked in. “I’m sure the firefighters will take care of everything.” He said, “This is bigger than a normal accident, son. This was a terrorist attack.” I was little scared when I heard him say the word ‘terrorist’, it’s not a pleasant word to hear, especially at that age. We got home, and I got inside the house right away to see the news. And what I saw, was worse than the video games I played. The sound of people crying in those dark dirty streets. The replays on the news of the two planes crashing into the towers. That explosion. Destruction, horror… something that will never leave me. Something I will never forget.
I WAS CHANGED…
Fear filled inside me. I was scared. I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I often sneaked into my parent’s room to sleep on the floor next to their bed to feel somewhat safe. I worried that terrorist will come and hurt my family. That dreadful day changed my life. I couldn’t shake the thought of a terrorist coming into my school, and putting a bomb to kill everyone. Nightmares were a normal thing to me since that day. I had dreams where I saw my family getting killed by those terrorists that I saw on the news. I often asked God, “Why would you allow, or let something like this happen?” Only if I knew that we allow us to do things like that. Our own choices. Our own actions. Not God’s fault. But, I didn’t. I took my anger against God, rather than seeking He’s peace and comfort. Everyday was a ‘What if’. What if… terrorist attack us with a nuke. What if… terrorist invade, and make us their slaves. What if… terrorist poison our food and water. Should a seven-year old have to worry about these things? Hell no. But, I did. I was scared shitless. [Excuse my bluntness.] Would those ‘what ifs’ become a reality, I thought to myself. “I don’t want my mommy or daddy or my little sister or little brother to get hurt.” I said to myself often bawling my eyes out. That dreadful day changed my life. Will my life ever go back to the way it was? No, but I later learned what being an American is.
I’M AN AMERICAN!
“One nation under God.” I saw that. Everybody came together. Churches became one body, and held mass prayer events. Color of skin set aside. Religious differences set aside. True faith playing a role. Random acts of kindness. America being America. My spirit was strong, and I was determined to keep that way. I wasn’t going to give the enemy what it wanted. America faced adversity. I faced adversity, and we conquered it. We rejected the notion to be victimized. We were going to be conquerors as one nation under God, indivisible and invincible, protecting our liberty and seeking justice for all those who lost someone, and as a nation as a whole on that unforgettable day. And we got our justice! And we conquered while making a promise that we will never forget. We might fall. We might not always win, but we never stay down, and we never give up! We are America, and you and I are Americans. We get hurt, but we heal. We turn something negative to something positive. Let the Freedom Tower rise, so it could be a reminder that we get right back up! And that is what we have done. I got right back up, and kept moving on with life while never forgetting 9/11.
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “ – President George W. Bush