I remember where I was when this day happened. I was in an assembly at school. It was a day that was super eery. We were in an assembly, and the individual speaking wasn't getting the attention he deserved from the crowd. He was trying to capture the attention of high schoolers, and it just wasn't happening.
All of a sudden, the head master abruptly ended the assembly, and made a speech--"Everyone-I have unfortunate news. This morning a plane hit the world trade center. If you have family that's close to that scene feel free to leave the assembly and reach out to them to ensure there safety. We will be ending this assembly."
I remember rushing to outside of the auditorium to call my Dad. He probably wasn't in the area but he had businesses all over NYC so I wanted to ensure it. He picked up and said he was fine and that he was headed home.
Once I got that reassurance, I looked around to see what the reactions of my class mates were. There were tears, there were frightened looks, there were disarray looks. It was complete chaos to be honest. We got up to class, and even the teachers didn't want to be there. After 15 minutes they let the whole school go for the day. This was right after the second world trade center building was hit.
People were frightened. I had never seen such chaos and fear within individuals. I myself was confused and unsure of exactly what was going on. Never experience tragedy of this nature, I just couldn't process it. I got my car--and my neighbor, a student who was a grade below, needed a ride home. We talked about the experience all the way home. He was physically upset. His mother was in one of the buildings and he couldn't get a hold of her.
It was an eery car ride back to his place. I dropped him off and he went on with his day. I went home. My dad eventually got back 6 hours later. He told me a story about how he had to walk from downtown all the way to uptown because the subways weren't moving and he found a way home. At the time I was just happy he was home. We sat all day watching the chaos on CNN. It was so sad. We learned all the details with the rest of America. Learned about people we had never heard of. It was the first time I was exposed to the idea that this much hate existed, and it wasn't to a particular person, it was to the country of the United States. I just couldn't phantom it. I didn't get it.
I went to bed that night scared-not knowing if tomorrow was promised. I woke up the next morning went to school. All my classmates kept talking about the day before, what they say, what they experienced, what they know. We were swapping stories that we all knew the premise of but were looking at it from different angles.
I eventually saw my neighbor and asked him how he was doing. He told me that he's hanging in there. He proceeds to tell me a story I'll never forget. His mother pretty much walked to the bronx where she eventually got transportation back to WestChester. She was in the second tower as it got hit. When the first one hit, she was on a top floor in the 70s, and she proceeded to go down the flight of stairs to evacuate. She didn't trust the elevators and came down in that manner. As she got to the bottom and hit the streets, within one minute the second building collapsed as she got it. She was in the debris running for her life, scared, and not knowing if she'd ever see her family. It was so eery. My friend looked shook up but relieved at the same time. I remember the day before watching those same people on t.v. running and to know one of those people were a good friends mother was unsettling. He had a great attitude for someone who's mother experienced that. He ended the conversation by thanking me for giving him a ride. I didn't really think much of it, just seeing it as the least I could do.
My friend's mom was running for her life-it's a story that still strikes a nerve in me today. Looking back at that story, I see that in that period of time we as Americans all pulled together and helped each other. We didn't see a divide in who we were, but we were all Americans who were striving to help uplift each other after those planes crashed. We mourned for the innocent who's lives were taken and we were grateful for those individuals who helped prevent any more death by fighting back on United Airlines 93. Those moments were some of the worst in American history, however, the soul of the people of the United States came together and decided that though our buildings would fall, that these terrorists would not take our souls. They would not take our fight to survive. They would not take our true essence of humans which is compassion, love, and forgiveness.
The speech President Bush made a few days that followed on site of 9/11 made me cry. It made me proud to be an American. He was what American needed at that time. Our resolve and fight led to the journey to rebuild what we have today. I am grateful to all of us who stood tall and didn't allow our hearts to be ripped out by terrorism. I am grateful for the resolve to rebuild. I am grateful for the leaders we had in place at the time to guide us through tragedy. I am grateful for all the love that strangers presented to one another in that time of need. I am grateful for us as a country that we allowed our love to overcome the hate.