It's been 10 years since the devastating terrorist attacks on our country that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing when it happened. I don't think you ever forget the first time you realize just how ugly and cruel and harsh the world can actually be. I was a couple of weeks into my freshman year of high school...14 years young. I was wearing grey cheer-shorts, a white tee, and a navy fleece jacket with my Roxy tennis-shoes. I was in Mr. Blair's ELP class first period, and I literally remember one of the teachers from the hall busting in and asking him if he'd "heard" and telling us to turn the TV on. We didn't learn anything that day. Our eyes were literally glued to the T.V., and as we were watching the news telling us about the first plane that flew into the Twin Towers, we actually saw the second one crash in. That's when we knew that this wasn't just a fluke but a planned, purposeful attack on our country. I remember bits and pieces of the day as friends checked in with family members to make sure that their family and friends near the attacks were OK. No one that I knew seemed to have any immediate family at risk. But I remember immediately choking up when my brother told me that a messenger had come to his class to let his friend, Bill, know that his dad was OK because he worked at the Pentagon. I can't imagine having to wait to hear if one of my parents is alright, and I hope I never do. I know we got out of school early, and I remember my mom coming home and me asking her questions, trying to understand. It's hard to be old enough to know what's going on around you but not really "get" it.
My English teacher, Mrs. Sutton, had us write letters to our future families to share about what had happened. I wasn't supposed to open it until the 40th anniversary, but I couldn't help myself. I don't ever want to be numb to the fact that life is a precious gift like I was that day. I don't ever want to forget the heroes of that day, so many that we will never even know about because they didn't live to tell their stories. I don't ever want to forget the countless lives cut short. Most importantly, I will never forget the pride I felt of being an American in the months that followed.