i was in second period sixth grade social studies with mrs. gravis when everything changed.
another teacher came into the room hurriedly and was whispering to mrs. gravis while we were all working on morning work worksheets. the teacher left and mrs. gravis went to the white board and wrote “bin laden.” honestly, i had no idea what that meant, and i don’t think any of my peers knew, either.
“this is the person responsible for these events.”
she closed the door and turned on the television as we watched a plane crash into the second tower in new york city.
the girl next to me was crying and was sent to the guidance counselor’s office. i just sat there and stared and couldn’t even imagine what else was going to happen as the day progressed. everyone was flustered and no one could focus and fortunately mrs. gravis understood that and used that moment as a teaching tool — she told us that we were witnessing history.
i can still remember where i was, what i was doing, and how i felt ten years ago to date. it’s incredible, really — being able to recall so many emotions at once so many years later. i remember being scared, thinking that it was quite possible that war would ruin us all in that very moment. i remember getting off the school bus and running as fast as i could back home. i saw an airplane and was scared.
this was the first time i can recall crying for other people — really crying, really feeling deep sadness for what was going on in the lives of so many other people. it was almost like i was realizing how big the world was outside of myself and my home in concord, north carolina. i was realizing firsthand that terrible things happen to all people, not just the bad guys.
it baffles me that humans have the capacity to do this to others — what is amazing though is how the nation came together in this time of adversity. the compassion and unity that was extended from all around the nation was heartwarming and is something i’ll never forget.
i think it’s good to reflect, to think about how lucky we are to live in a country that defends our freedoms and rights with such valor.
alicia keys’s song “empire state of mind (part ii)” is something i’ve been listening to today and has been a lovely accompaniment to my thoughts. i think about where i was and what i was doing ten years ago and still get a little misty-eyed thinking about how awful that day was for the history of the united states. it is refreshing though to remember how wonderful people can be in times of pain.